Chapter 1: Awkward Proposal
The moment was finally here! They had survived the Promised Day, saved the world and managed to get his eyesight back. Roy was not Fuhrer (yet!) but things were on the road to change. For the first time in years he was completely confident in the direction his life was going. Soon they would depart for Ishval to rebuild but there was one thing he had to do first. He stood up and put his hands on his desk, it was the day they had worked towards for a decade.
The Flame Alchemist completely lost his confidence as soon as Hawkeye looked at him. He could feel the courage leaving him, his body became cold and hands started to sweat. His knees started to shake and his voice box found a pitch it hadn’t used since before he hit puberty. Overall this was a disaster and if he wasn’t a bumbling idiot he would have called a retreat to regroup. ”Lieutenant?”
Riza turned to look at him and she could see him shaking. His voice was distressed and he looked like he was going into shock. ”General? Is everything OK?”
"Yes!" He said, the reply coming out in a whistle instead of the cocky and irrefutable affirmative he had hoped for. His brain screamed abort! but he was going to salvage this. He had to. “We’ve been together a long time.”
Riza cocked her head. Mustang was clearly shaken and this conversation starter almost sounded like there was going to be a disruption to that ‘being together’ part. He kept rubbing his hands on his pants nervously and ran his fingers through his hair like he always did when he was trying to pretend he was in control of the situation. What was going on? ”Sir?”
"Would you….." Roy inwardly cursed at himself. That wasn’t what he practiced! "Will you honor…"
She stared at him. Honor her promise? To shoot him? What the hell was he thinking? They did the right thing! ”If this is about the human transmutation, you were forced to do that sir!”
He opened his mouth to say something then shut it. Ok, this was already spiraling out of control. ”No, that’s not it.”
She wondered what else he could be experiencing guilt over. What he could think had lured him off his path? ”Using the philosopher’s stone was the right thing to do!”
Say it Idiot! SAY IT before this goes to hell! "You said you’d follow me into hell and…I want to know if you’d do it by my side instead." Oh my God, you fucking idiot!
"Are you asking me to shoot myself too?" She asked. "I thought we cleared this up in the tunnels, without you I…"
"I can’t be without you!" He said in a pitchy squeak. "I mean, I want to be with you for all eternity."
She frowned. Now he was experiencing insecurity issues about the afterlife?
"Forget everything I just said." He stepped forward and wiped his hands off again on his pants. "What I need to know…I mean what I want to ask….What I’m trying to say is…."
She listened to a string of Xingese curses she couldn’t even begin to understand. He reached in his pocket and took out a small bag. He took out a ring and held it up between them.
"Will you do me…." the ring suddenly slipped from his wet and trembling fingers and hit the ground. "FUCK!"
She watched him drop to his knees to find the ring he had dropped and continued to watch him crawl around the office floor, and under his desk. More Xingese curses filled the room as she looked at her General’s ass wiggling around as he tried to grab a ring he intended to give to her. It was like they were kids again, that lanky teenager who stole her heart and treated her like a queen even though he could have had any girl he wanted. He chose her. Then there was a thump as he whacked his head on his desk as he tried to crawl back out.
"Son of a bitch!" Roy hissed and finally a little anger and frustration helped him push aside his anxiety. He got out from under the desk and remained kneeling. Then he brushed some hair from his eyes, raised one knee and held out the ring again. He had nearly half his life to prepare for this moment and now he had so thoroughly botched it that he was about ready to just tell her to shoot him. "Riza, will you marry me?"
She bit her lip and suddenly was overwhelmed with emotion as tears started to well up in her eyes.
He stood up when she didn’t say anything. Maybe he didn’t say that last thing out loud. “Will you do me the honor of being your wife….I mean my wife. Will you be my wife?”
She leapt into his arms, catching him off guard and apparently off balance as he fell backwards and slammed into the floor. The ring, once again, flew out of his hand and across the floor. She placed her lips on his, excited and also as a preventative measure to stop him from saying anything else. His arms wrapped around her and she lost herself in the kiss, not hearing the door to the office open or the entire team enter to find out what the ‘bang’ was.
Breda burst into tears. ”Oh my God! This is the best kind of bang!! I can die happy!”
Roy looked up at the team, minus Havoc who was still in the hospital in rehab. Breda was sobbing into Falman’s shoulder and muttering things about the satisfaction of finally seeing them kiss. Falman just smiled at him and Fuery was not attempting to hide hisjoy. He however just didn’t care. There was something he still needed to hear and he was hoping she wouldn’t make him ask again. ”So, was that a yes?”
"Yes." Riza said and kissed him again.
Roy pointed in the direction of where the ring flew. As soon as she broke off the kiss he found his commanding voice again and said, “Can someone please get me the ring I just dropped so I can give it to my fiance?”
Chapter 2: Movie Night
Roy casually munched on his popcorn as he looked on the floor for a sign that Riza had taken a seat in that row of the theater. He was wearing his fedora and brown coat plus a pair of glasses he picked up at the thrift store. Date night with Riza was always such a production, however he loved every minute of it.
He glanced down as he saw a dog leash and picked it up before selecting that row. When he reached the blond in the sweater with the black and white ‘child’ wearing a bonnet, he cleared his throat and whispered, “Miss, you seem to have dropped your…baby tether.”
Riza looked up at him in his ridiculous oversized glasses and felt Hayate’s tail thump on her leg. ”Thank you sir.”
"What an adorable kid!" He sat and sat down, giving Hayate a piece of popcorn.
"You’ll spoil his dinner, Mister." She said and smiled at him as the lights dimmed and the projector started to hum. She could see in the flickers of light him removing parts of his disguise to get comfortable and she happily took the stupid bonnet off Hayate so he could curl up beside her and go to sleep.
"What if I make it up to you?" He whispered. "Dinner at my place?"
"You’ll spoil my dinner too." She whispered back. "The moment we walk in that door you’re going to take off your jacket and make me want my dessert first."
"What if I just classify it as an appetizer?" He leaned in close to her ear. "Make sure you work up an appetite first?"
Riza chuckled as some lady three rows down turned around and ‘SHUSH’ed them loudly. The lady started muttering something about ‘kids these days’ and ‘no wonder the floors are sticky’. She smiled as he leaned back in his seat and grabbed her hand on the armrest.
Roy remained quiet for most of the movie, enjoying his popcorn, company and the hand he was holding. He thought the film would be something silly however “The Mummy” turned out to be humorous and engrossing. Half through he leaned over and whispered, “This could be us. You that gun toting, ex-solider turned adventurer looking for treasures. Me the bookworm who reads from the wrong book and triggers the end of the world.”
Riza whispered back, “This is us. Right down to you being an idiot who has some fan trying to kidnap you and use your body.”
"For human transmutation." He nodded. "Uncanny."
Roy stuck his tongue out at the woman who couldn’t see it in the dark, but that wasn’t the point. ”I’d love it if you wore tight pants with tall boots.”
Riza heard a dreamy sigh from behind them and stiffened.
"You two are so cute." Barry the Chopper popped up between them and sighed again. "i just love you both to pieces. Little…tiny…bloody…loving pieces."
Roy frowned as the damned stalker serial killer ruined another date. ”I’d love to chop your blood seal into pieces.”
Riza squeezed Roy’s hand as Barry sat back down to enjoy the rest of the movie. ”Stop it, both of you.”
"What the hell are you doing here anyway? How did you even get in here?" Roy turned to look at the annoying hunk of armor but met with Riza’s glare first. "Nevermind"
"Behave boys." Riza said and they all settled back in to watching the film.
Chapter 3: You're Always Leaving
Riza looked over at Roy finally sleeping soundly in his own hospital bed. It was over, the Promised Day had come and gone and….it was over. Their quest to save the world had come and gone and along with it, his dreams of changing it. Gone. His dreams, his plans gone with with his vision, his last piece of paperwork he would sign as Colonel Mustang would be his honorable discharge.
It was how their relationship had been from the beginning. He was always leaving.
It began when he came to study with her Father, how she couldn’t help but fall for this sweet city boy who adored her for who she was. She finally had a friend and what she considered a boyfriend. Then he left.
It broke her heart, but she kept going in her mundane life. At least she had the experience. Better to have loved and lost, right? However he came back….in uniform. Her father died and he stayed with her, more treasured days with Roy only to see him ready to leave after the funeral. Before he left she offered him something he couldn’t resist, the secret to Flame Alchemy. It was the right decision, he was the one.
Then he cursed himself for leaving. Leaving her father to burn this into her back. The tears of shame and fury, and words of an idealist who wanted to protect everyone. He’d do it too. He now had something to protect people with. She watched him leave again, his head held high and his determination set. He left.
Time passed and she had already decided it was time for her to leave. Leave this old house and her memories. Leave that little girl behind that cried for the mother that died and the love she never asked to stay. She left that weak girl behind and became a confident woman. Confident in her skill, confident that she would protect people too. They met again and she found out that he also left that young boy he was behind, to be replaced by someone who questioned everything and hated himself.
The war ended and he announced that once again, he was leaving. This time he was going to aim his sites for the top and change things. She finally couldn’t allow him to leave this time, she wasn’t liking the trend. He always came back worse, the only way to make sure he didn’t go where she couldn’t follow was to be beside him.
It was a blessing and a curse. She told him to burn her back, leave the secrets that were eating them both alive to die with them. No more flame alchemists. All those burns did was leave behind a scar, something to wounded them both so deeply they still hadn’t recovered. She saw her failings and he saw her disappointment. He saw his betrayal and her pain, pain he caused. So he left, to make things right. To atone for his sins. Once she was healed, she made the decision to never let him leave again. She would follow him into hell, though he saw it as devotion and not a threat then.
They left behind the tired dance of friendship and embraced the role of lovers. He finally asked if she wanted to get married and all she could do was picture him leaving every day. Walking out the door into the unknown and she told him no. She loved him but she was not going to leave his side. She didn’t need a certificate to tell them what they were.
It was the best decision she ever made. Roy was excellent at walking himself into stupid situations. He almost walked into Scar's hand, almost ended up a splatter of deconstructed mass in the middle of the city. Then he almost died by Lust’s hand and she thought he left her for good. Then he almost was eaten by Gluttony. He was an absolute idiot. Then he tried to leave himself behind in order to satisfy his anger with Envy. So she turned the tables on him. I’ll leave with you. It was enough to stop him and make her thankful she never left him by himself.
However the threat of her leaving him became a reality….when she was bleeding on the floor and watching her life leak out as he stared at her helpless. She saw his desperation, his fear. He’d never survive her leaving. It took every ounce of her being to tell him No. She wasn’t going to leave. She was ordered not to die and so help me God if you try to perform human transmutation....
That was the past and now they were sitting in their beds in the hospital. He left her side and came back blind, but this time it was not his choice. She looked at him and wondered if he could leave it all behind; The job and his goals.
"What’s wrong?" Roy sat up and turned. He looked in her direction, frustrated with the darkness. "Riza?"
She raised her eyebrows and didn’t realize she had started to cry until he sat up and looked at her. His eyes blank orbs. ”I’m here, I’ll never leave.”
"Then come over here and tell me why you’re upset. Don’t worry about me."
She got up and sat on his bed. Her hand caressing his face and his eyes searching for something even though they both knew it was pointless.
"I’ll leave it to you to be my eyes." He said and nuzzled into her caress. "We’ll make it through this."
"I’m actually hoping your common sense will improve with the other heightened senses. " She said softy.
He smiled. ”I think that’s a little optimistic don’t you? Just look…I don’t have enough sense to not kiss my Lieutenant when anyone could walk in here.”
She held her breathe as he landed a kiss on her chin, then dragged his lips up to the corner of her mouth and finally found her lips. She had to smile. ”Don’t you ever try to leave me again.”
"When the hell did I ever want to leave you?"
Chapter 4: Bath Time
"Riza!" Roy called out, " Bath is ready!"
He knelt down on the bathroom rug and turned off the water. He playfully blew on the mountain of bubbles that smelled like strawberries and the sweet smell of soapy seduction. Or that could have just been his active imagination. However when he had his own line of bath products the later was going to be a scent.
"Riza!" He sang her name and smirked. "Don’t make me come out there and sing to you!"
"I said I was taking a bath…not a bath with you!"
He frowned. “Sorry I gave you a headache at the office today but….”
"But you’re a childish idiot who can’t help screaming insults at a teenager?"
Roy stood up and determined that she probably wasn’t in the mood to walk in here and see him standing naked with a rose clenched in his teeth. He was going to have to turn up the seduction a notch! So he wrapped himself in the delightfully fluffy towel and padded out of the bathroom with his rose in his hand.
Riza just finished choosing whether she wanted wine or ibuprofen. Mixing the two was a bad idea so the choice had to be made. Wine won. As her lips touched the rim of the glass she saw him slide out of the hallway, in a towel with one of his classic “I’m going to make you question why you love me.” smiles on his face.
"Oh snap, snap!" Roy sang as he whipped the towel off his waist and snapped at the couch.
Riza shook her head. The man was impossible not to love.
He held the rose like a microphone as he stood there naked in her living room. His hips swayed and he winked at her, “Spark, spark!”
She watched him throw the rose in the fireplace and the flames flare up. Damn him for being so fucking cute and creative.
"Time to light up the diggy diggy dark!" He spun and wiggled his ass at her in preperation of belting out the rest but her chuckling voice made him look over his shoulder and smile.
Riza raised her wine glass and pointed at the window. “Those people can see you out in the park.”
He blinked and turned to look out the patio doors which were not covered by the vertical blinds. “Shit!”
She watched him cover himself with the discarded towel and dart back to the bathroom.
"Riza! Bath’s ready! Come and get it!"
She smiled and took her wine with her as she made her way to her bathroom.
Chapter 5: An Arguement
Roy rested his head against the glass as the train clacked down the rails and headed back to East City. The lights of the city faded, giving way to the rural areas and he looked across to Riza who was still reading her book. “So is there a betting pool in the office on how long my relationship is going to last?”
She glanced up at him. Of course there was, the team had a gambling problem. Betting on Roy’s dates was a given. “That’s a stupid question.”
He pulled out his wallet and handed her some bills. “Put that on two weeks for me. At least I’ll come out of this with something.”
She stared at the money in her hand as he went back to looking out the window. “What?”
“Yeah that should do it. About two weeks to get tired of the phone sex and long commute.” He thought about it. “Maybe we should plan an office party too, so at least there will be cookies when I take everyone’s money.”
She stood up, dropped the money in his lap and smacked him with the book she was reading. “You idiot.”
He cringed and looked at her incredulously. “What the hell Hawkeye!?”
“Do you have any idea how miserable you are? Do you have any idea how much it tears us apart to know that you are miserable because of your goals? Miserable because you want to save the country?”
“No, but I’m pretty sure the guy at the liquor store does.” He cringed as she looked like she was going to hit him again. Why did they have to be alone right now? He was going to get bludgeoned to death with a mystery novel and there was nobody to save him.
“God Roy, why do you self destruct like this? Why is it when you feel what it’s like to be happy again that you think it’s so damned wrong?”
He sat there quietly as she threw her book into the seat and put her hands on her hips. Preparing to berate him like he was a child. Well apparently his little joke struck a nerve and he was curious as to what nerve that was. It was serious, they dropped the formalities and were on a first name basis. Clearly this had been brewing a while. “Riza, what the hell are you talking about?”
“Your happiness does not impede your ability to attain your goals.”
“When have I ever been outwardly happy?” Then he added snidely, “Oh wait this one time I had a puppy for a minute…. and then you took it away. Does that count?”
“Stop it. Don’t you dare mock me now. Not when I’m worried about you!”
“Ok, then let’s think back to the day I left your father’s house and asked you to come with me. Remember that?”
“Of course I do. What was I going to do in Central? I was too young to go to academy. I had no skills to get a job. What was I going to do?”
“You told me goodbye. You did.”
“Or else you would have stayed. You would have stayed and kept pressuring my father for the secrets to flame alchemy and rotted away in that house just like he did. A slave to those books.”
“Instead of a slave to the state.”
“Instead of a damned hero. Instead of the man who rose up out of nothing to be here! A man poised to change a nation corrupted by the elite and a government that demands the worst in human nature. A man who is going to save us all.” She paused as he seemed to look a little guilty. ”What?”
"Would it be a bad time to mention that Vanessa works at my Mom’s place and….I was just ‘dating’ her to piss off Havoc and win the office pool?"
She turned and grabbed her book ready to smack him in the front of the face this time. As soon as she turned he was standing there with a look on his face that made her fury fade.
"So if my happiness doesn’t impede my ability to attain my goals…." He leaned in close and felt her hold her breath. "Does that mean I can have the dog back?"
As she went to swing the book he grabbed her arm and she couldn’t help but laugh. ”You are such an asshole.”
"What if I told you that you made me happy. That the joy I have in my life is seeing you almost every day and having you yell at me like we’ve been married forever.” He brushed back a strand of her hair and leaned in close. ”What would you say then?”
"You better start walking the dog, because you have not been doing your fair share of parenting." She whispered back and his lips cracked a small smile.
"You just yelled at me for not seizing the opportunity to enjoy life. Apparently I’m entitled to it because I’m trying to save the world." He swallowed hard. He sure was good at saying things but when it came down to actually moving the next three inches closer and kissing her, he was paralyzed.
"Must I do everything?" She asked and dropped the book, grabbed him by the lapels and pulled him down into her kiss.
Chapter 6: The World's Fair
Roy Mustang was in heaven. He danced around the office waving his precious tickets at everyone and Havoc thought that he just might have seen little anime hearts pulsating in his eyes. “Oh boy, so excited.” he said dryly as Mustang almost paper-cut his eyes out trying to show him the tickets.
“It’s the World’s Fair!!! How can you not be excited!?” Roy chirped and actually giggled like a fangirl. “THE World’s Fair! The premier exposition of state of the art technology! A showcase of industrial and science advancements! The ‘world of tomorrow’ in Central today!!”
Riza sighed. He reminded her of Ed's girlfriend whenever she saw automail.
Breda nudged his friend. “Come on Jean, you have to find it at least interesting! It’s the World’s Fair.”
“My fair back home…we expo livestock. The bacon of tomorrow, in the show ring today.” Havoc looked down the table to see Fuery also rather excited and Falman thoughtful. He shrugged. It was at least a break from paperwork and East City. As staff to a State Alchemist they were entitled to make the journey with him as he gallivanted around the Fair looking at all the exhibits like the nerd he was. “Seems silly to call it the World’s fair anyway when the only country we actually let attend is Xing.”
“It’s more of a boast of world dominance on the part of the state.” Breda doodled on his paperwork. “A way to boost national pride and also distribute information to the masses. Or in our case, make our fearless leader dance around like an idiot.”
“Oh Boy, so excited.” Havoc repeated with even less enthusiasm as before. He looked at Hawkeye who was dutifully trying to complete paperwork before they left for the week. Lucky her, having to babysit him in the scientist’s equivalent of a toy store.
Riza was having a hard time keeping an eye on Mustang as he seemed to be swarmed by fangirls wanting autographs one minute and then entranced by some exhibit the next. She wondered if he realized the only reason the Military had given him tickets was to show him off to the populace. Mustang was the state of the art weapon the military had at it’s disposal and here he was with his charming smile and boyish glee walking amongst the people. She sighed as he disappeared into some exhibit featuring the Fiji Mermaid. She just knew as soon as she walked in there he as going to be scrutinizing it to determine if it was a fake or a chimera.
“It’s a damned monkey sewn onto a carp.” Roy declared as soon as he set eyes on her. “It’s really not that hard to fake this with alchemy. I could probably make them something more realistic with a can of tuna and some dryer lint.”
She bent down and looked at it. “Why did you come in here?”
“To lure you into a dark booth alone with me.” He winked at her as the hovered near the glass display case, illuminated by a dim bulb.
“You, me and this fancy tuna?”
“It’s the only non-popular exhibit I saw since we came to the fair.” He looked at the mermaid again and frowned.
She smiled as he squeezed her hand lightly and then stood up with a sigh. “You’re the most popular exhibit by far.”
“You noticed that too, hmmm?” He leaned in and whispered, “Good thing I only am an exhibitionist for you.”
“That wasn’t even remotely clever.”
“You should kiss me and shut me up before I embarrass myself further.” He said with a seductive tone to his whisper.
“If that was how we operated, you would have starved by now.” Riza dead-panned.
He leaned over and placed a light kiss on her lips. “Love you too.”
Riza gave him a smile and said, “Let’s go before they start asking why you’re in here so long.”
Roy watched her leave and pulled out his map of the fair. Somewhere there had to be a remote location they could escape to. “Lieutenant! I want to see the instant pudding exhibit!”
She turned and looked at him as he came out of the booth. “Did you just say pudding?”
“Instant pudding! It’s like….vanilla flavored edible alchemy!” He gave her a smirk.
“Ok.” She fell in behind him as he picked up the pace and briskly walked past a dozen or so exhibits that would have actually interested him if he wasn’t on a mission to discover the miracle of instant dessert.
Roy was thrilled that absolutely no one was at the pudding exhibit. Not even the manufacturers. He walked in and looked around, it was brightly lit and actually had a rather delicious smell wafting around the booth. Most importantly, it was empty. “Riza, I have something very important to ask you.”
“It seems unnatural.” She said and looked at the display on the wall proclaiming that delectable pudding could be ready in less than five minutes.
He paused as he felt around his pocket. Oh, she was talking about the pudding. “It’s just a reaction between the milk and something in the powder that starts the thickening process. Instead of heat, the component in the powder triggers the reaction.”
“What ‘something’?” She asked knowing he’d huff at her, irritated that he didn’t know.
“If I knew that, I’d be the one with the patent and better attendance at my booth at the World’s Fair.” He fumbled again in his pocket and realized he was still wearing his gloves. So he quickly pulled his right glove off and then went back into his pocket for the ring before she could turn around.
“Fangirls and Pudding.” She sighed and turned to him and saw the fake innocent smile plastered on his face. “What are you up to?”
“I said I have a question to ask.”
She stepped forward and gave him that look she reserved for moments like these when he wanted to take risks in public places. Then her eyebrows rose as he produced a ring and took a step closer to her.
“So this isn’t what I had planned. I wanted to go somewhere perfect and romantic, but fate just seems to keep ruining my plans. I hate that we can only be together in secret, sneaking into each other’s apartments in disguise or stealing kisses at the office. You deserve better than that. I know we keep saying that once we reach the top it’s all going to change, but I don’t think you should have to wait for this. I need you to know how very much I need you and want you to be with me forever. I want us both to know that our ‘World of Tomorrow’ might be a long way off but when we finally get there that there will be no question of what we do next.”
She held her breath as he went down on one knee and took her hand.
“Riza, will you marry me?” He had gone through this a million times in his head, but never once did he think he’d be doing it in a pudding display. Maybe once or twice he contemplated a bathtub full of pudding, but that just seemed unsanitary and probably wouldn’t drain well. He swallowed hard, realizing his mind was rambling to keep his nerves at bay.
“Yes.” She bit her lip as he put the ring on her finger and then stood up and kissed her. Was that really all she could say? Shouldn’t there be something unforgetable? No…her mind was a complete blank and she was lucky she remembered how to even say that one little word.
“I’m sorry that nothing about our lives is normal.” He ran his hand down her cheek. “That ring has been in the family for generations. It’s not much, but it’s about all the Mustang’s really have to pass down.”
“I wish I could wear it.” She said softly, knowing in a few minutes she’d be taking it off to hide it. Was this really happening?
He kissed her again. “I’m sorry I couldn’t find somewhere better to propose than the pudding booth.”
“I’m just glad you didn’t pick the Fiji Mermaid booth.”
“Someday I promise I’ll make up for everything I couldn’t do…”
She smiled at him. “Being by your side is worth it. I never question that decision.”
He looked up as he heard someone scream about pudding and realized their time was up. He placed one final kiss on her lips before she had to pull off the ring and put it in her pocket. They turned away from each other and tried to look engrossed by the nutritional facts on the posters on the wall. He had to focus hard to try and erase the smile on his face as nobody would believe he was that excited about the calcium content of instant pudding. “By God, it’s even Gluten free!”
She clutched the ring in her hand and smiled. By god, that man was her fiance! She felt a tingle as she clutched the ring. She never doubted his intentions but somehow this one little token meant so much.
“Whip it until it’s creamy.” Said the irresistible voice from the other side of the booth.
She shook her head. Maybe by the time they could marry he would grow up. “Time to go, sir.”
Chapter 7: Memories
“I made you more coffee.” Riza walked into the dark study and saw Roy’s head lying on a book. His eyes were closed, his mouth slightly open and a light snore escaped his skinny body. She frowned at her father’s apprentice who was struggling to work out some theory and gave up on sleep in order to do so by the deadline her father had set. She set the carafe down and went over to pick up a blanket from the shelf, then walked over to drape it over his scrawny shoulders. She looked down at the old text and realized that he was drooling a little on the old brittle pages, her father would pitch a fit if he saw water stains on his precious books.
Riza slipped her hand under his forehead and lifted him up so she could slip the book out from under him. Successful she set him back down on the table and blew gently on the book to help it dry. Thankfully none of the older ink was blurred and the young alchemist would avoid another lecture from her father about being careless with priceless books. She set the book down on the table and blew out the light.
Roy blinked awake as soon as he smelled the smoke from the extinguished candle. He groaned and felt a blanket around him and someone standing next to him. “Riza?”
She put her hand on his shoulder and said, “Sorry, I didn’t want the candle to burn down.”
He sat up and felt the crocheted blanket that draped over him and then looked in the general direction of the candle. “Someday, I hope I can light that damned thing without having to remember where I put the matches.”
“It’s daylight.” She informed him. “Most intelligent and thrifty people just take advantage of the windows for light.”
He rubbed his eyes and sighed. Riza was three years his junior but thanks to this life she always seemed to be older and practical than him; her life of self-reliance and doing whatever necessary to make ends meet in a run down old home with a emotionally dead Father. She had to grow up too fast and when he wasn’t standing beside the young girl looking at her youthful features, it was hard to remember she was only thirteen. Her life revolved around making the best of what they had, working during daylight and conserving things like candles because even those had to be made.
“I brought you coffee.” She offered.
“Thank you.” He said. Coffee. Something else he had taken for granted. There was always a fresh pot brewing at Madam Christmas’s, the girls never wasted money or time on spirits. They needed caffeine. However it was one of the first shocking revelations when he came to the Hawkeye’s for his studies; there was no coffee. Coffee cost money as it could not be grown here and this was a self sustaining farmstead. Whatever could not be grown or made, had to be traded for and coffee was not a necessity. Well maybe not to them, but it was right up next to Oxygen on the list of things he needed to survive. So he did little errands for the general store manager in exchange for coffee when he was in town with Riza.
“I can make you breakfast?” She offered in an attempt to lure him out of the cavern of books and manuscripts.
“Sounds great.” He never heard her bare feet make a sound as they tread across the floor, it was always the creaky floorboards that gave away her presence. The foundation of the Hawkeye home was shifting and eroding, thanks to the lack of gutters and grading around the home. One more thing Riza tried to fix when she wasn’t canning, hunting or managing the estate. When he could he tried to help her but it was always painfully obvious who the city boy was. The nimble and crafty Miss Hawkeye could climb into the rafters and patch roof tiles, slip under the floor into the crawl space to repair pipes and milk the cow as well as tend to it’s basic vet needs. He generally stood and watched, feeling useless as he didn’t know any worthwhile alchemy to do more than repair broken dishes and re-craft rusty nails into usable ones. His studies were beginning to suffer since he was doing more research into helping make her life easier than into whatever Berthold Hawkeye was trying to teach him about the noble elements. Hence his lack of sleep, his work was due tomorrow and his teacher would not be impressed with his wheel barrow repair or berry picking prowess. “Did you need help with the garden today?”
Riza opened the door and let the light from the hall flood into the room. “If you will stop eating half of the crop, sure.”
He stood and let the blanket fall off his shoulders, then picked up the coffee carafe. “In my defense you didn’t provide adequate instructions for the ‘taste testing’ aspect of my raspberry picking.”
“Mr. Mustang, next time you eat half my garden you should remember how much raspberries stain. Your hands were stained red.”
“I ate the overripe ones!” He walked over to the door and smirked at her. “It was…a service.”
“Maybe I’ll just have you pick lettuce instead.” She said and turned to walk down the hall to the kitchen. “Or zucchini.”
“I think I figured out how to fix the milking stool.” he said proudly. Carpentry wasn’t ever one of his interests but once he researched the composition of wood he figured out how to repair the broken leg of the stool. It only took four hours to complete the array in his pocket.
“It’s 9 am.” She said and pointed to the bucket of milk in the sink. “I already fixed it with a broken broom handle.”
He frowned. Some days he hated her ingenuity. However he should have known better, it was how she survived out here. Master Hawkeye seemed to be of the opinion that things just magically happened in order to provide them with meals and heat.
“I’m sorry, you wanted to fix it with alchemy didn’t you?”
“No, I wanted to milk the cow again and have her tell me I was mishandling her teats.” He slumped into the chair and set his coffee down as a soft blush grew on Riza’s face before she turned away and started to heat up a frying pan. “I know you can handle everything on your own Riza, but as your friend I really want to help you. I like studying with you and I don’t think it’s fair that you have the chores of an entire family on your shoulders when you should be concentrating on your studies.”
“There is plenty of time to study in the winter.” She informed him. “You’ll see. However when the summer is here I have to get as much done as possible or we be without in the winter.”
“However when it’s January and you want to help, I’ll wake you at 5 am and let the cow tell you how much she doesn’t appreciate your cold hands on her teats.”
He snorted and poured his coffee into the chipped mug waiting for him. He had technically heard that one before but in a different context from one of Christmas’s girls.
Colonel Roy Mustang managed to drown out the excited and obnoxious chatter from the Elrics as they sat in the diner awaiting their order to arrive. He looked out the window at the street vendors selling produce and some farm carts traveling up and down the street filled with the day’s harvest. It was a nice small town they had stopped in, and it reminded him of the one that the Hawkeyes had lived in. Hence the reason he was staring out the window recalling days of his youth and the structural issues of the Hawkeye homestead.
Riza sat at the table listening intently to the stories the Elrics were sharing about their recent trip home. Roy had zoned out a while ago, about as interested in automail and Resenbool as he was in doing paperwork back in the office. She however was enjoying their stories about their Granny, Winry and an adventure with a amputee dog and a skunk. Then however the waitress arrived and placed a pitcher of milk in front of Ed.
“Here you go young man.” The waitress smiled at the blond boy as he stared at the white substance in the pitcher. “You should listen to your Dad, drinking milk will help you grow up big and strong.”
Ed began to twitch as he looked at the disgusting milk in the pitcher. Mustang had a habit of ordering milk for him when he bought him food, refusing to pay for anything else. Traveling with Mustang and Hawkeye always got them the comments about being family and the Colonel just took it in stride and found a way to piss him off with it. This however was downright disgusting! Not just a glass of milk, a whole damned dairy full of it in a pitcher in front of him! He clenched his fists and shook with rage, trying to come up with something to say before that bastard turned and opened his mouth to casually insult him.
“Say thank you kid.” Roy could feel the waitress hovering at the end of the table and turned to look at Ed. “Someone had to get up at 5am and milk that cow to provide you with that nutritious and delicious beverage. Someone, unlike you, who knew how to properly handle a pair of teats.”
Riza turned to stare at him in disbelief as the waitress overfilled her coffee cup. Then Roy’s smug smile announced he wasn’t quite finished.
“Especially with that automail hand of yours, I mean…who wants cold metal hands on their teats?”
Riza wished he wasn’t wearing steel toed boots, she would have broken his toes for that.
Ed exploded. He stood up and slammed his fists into the table, kicking the chair out from behind him. “Damn you Mustang….”
Roy only had time to wince as suddenly a pitcher of milk was flung into his face. He heard the gasp from Al and the waitress, then the snicker from Riza as he wiped his eyes off with his now milk soaked gloves.
“Look who’s useless even with a pitcher of milk in the morning!” Ed snapped. “You ass!”
Roy casually ran his fingers through his milk soaked hair and brushed it back out of his eyes. “Ingrate.”
“Don’t talk about milking and teats….I told you Winry is just my friend!!! You disgusting old bastard!” Ed screamed and it was quite possible Winry heard it several counties over.
“I was talking about dairy farming and quoting a friend of mine.” Roy stood up and looked at the mess around his chair. “Isn’t that right Lieutenant? Tell the runt who the real pervert is here.”
“Hardly the appropriate place for nostalgia, sir.” She said as he gave her a pout and she knew what was coming next.
“Well now I have to go to our hotel room and change. Perhaps you can help clean up this mess while you wait for your breakfast Fullmetal?” Roy gave a dramatically heavy sigh and watched Riza stand and give him the disapproving cock of her eyebrow. Clearly she wasn’t as amused as he was at his clever way to use their hotel room alone for a little while. Only one small bed and breakfast here in town and one vacancy left the four of them crammed into small room with one twin bed a couch and a roll away cot. Now, however, he had an excuse to use that twin bed with Hawkeye before the maid came to clean the rooms. No points for romanticism, but several points for tactical manipulation.
Ed stammered and looked at the restaurant manager coming with a mop and bucket as the Colonel and Lieutenant left the restaurant. “Son of a bitch!”
Al chuckled. “Yes, brother, what exactly were you thinking about?”
Ed growled. “Shut up Al.”
Chapter 8: Continued Education
My LJ fma-fic-contest entry for prompt 299- Alternative Universe….plus the rest of the damned drabble I couldn’t help but write.
If Roy didn’t leave for the academy and stayed with the Hawkeyes to master flame alchemy….and later got two apprentices.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“You’re really young.”
“You’re really short but you don’t see me walking into your home and insulting you.” Roy Mustang’s eyes narrowed at the boy, Edward Elric. “Where are your parents?”
“Mom died and Dad…” Alphonse began to reply but his brother finished for him.
“Dad is a loser who walked out on her. So can you teach us alchemy? We have the money to pay you.” Ed piped in.
Riza looked over her shoulder at her husband as he fed their newborn daughter with the bottle. Since her father’s death three years ago, there weren’t many apprentices that came calling at the house. “You’re how old?”
“I’m nine.” Ed said defiantly.
“Eight.” Al replied.
Roy rocked the baby in his arms. “You’re not trying to learn alchemy so you can perform human transmutation are you?”
The boys stared at him in disbelief.
“I lost my parents too, it crossed my mind.” Roy explained and looked at the little girl he was holding. “This however is as close as we humans should ever dare to tread to that line of playing God. You want a teacher, I’ll teach you, but you will swear an oath to me that you will never attempt anything so stupid as human transmutation. Understand?”
“You don’t understand…” Ed stammered.
“I do.” Roy looked to them both and then to the door. “So either say ‘Yes’ or get out. I won’t have a part in your destruction.”
“What are we paying you for if you won’t teach us Flame Alchemy?”
“You ingrate! You’re paying me for alchemy lessons not the rights to Flame Alchemy secrets!”
Riza walked over and pet Alphonse’s head as Ed and Roy argued in the study. She could see on Al’s face that he didn’t share his brother’s opinion on the matter and was slightly embarrassed by the situation. She looked down at Al’s work as he sat at the kitchen table and finished his breakfast. “They’re both very stubborn.”
Al looked up at her and smiled. He adored Riza and she encouraged them both just as his own mother used to do. She even put Ed’s horrible drawings on the refrigerator like they were works of art instead of barely distinguishable scribbles. “Ed’s always had an anger issue.”
“Roy too.” Riza refilled his milk and looked up as she heard the baby start to cry because of the argument. “However it’s going to be me losing my temper because those two started a screaming match as soon as I got her to bed.”
Al looked up as he heard the door open and angry footfalls go marching down the hall. “We’re really grateful, Mrs. Mustang, for everything he has taught us. We really are. Brother just…he doesn’t really express himself well. He wanted to learn everything and instead of saying that he walks up and demands things.”
Roy walked into the kitchen and gave his wife an apologetic look. “I’ll go get her settled back down.”
She watched Ed sulk in, then take a seat at the table as Roy darted back down the hall to go tend to his little girl. Riza knew better than to offer him milk, but she hated to give the kid coffee. They didn’t have a lot of money for food and supplies and these two ate so much it was like they were hosting a colony of tapeworms inside them. She knew he hated the sulfur taste of the well water so about all she could do was ask him what caffeinated beverage he wanted. “Tea or Coffee, Ed?”
“Can you talk to him?” Ed asked. “Talk some sense into him? It’s a compliment that I want to learn how to use fire like he does.”
“It’s an accident waiting to happen.” Al snorted. “With your short temper? You’d set the country on fire!”
“Shut up Al.”
“No, brother. You are being unreasonable.” Al said and watched Riza put the teapot on to boil some water.
“My father didn’t want to teach Roy, Flame Alchemy either.” Riza sat down at the table as she heard the baby’s crying stop. “He stayed here for years, gave up his career to stay here and learn. Until he felt Roy was mature enough to carry such a burden, my father refused to teach him.”
“I thought he stayed because you guys got married.” Al said. He really liked being a part of a happy, and complete household again. He liked the warmth of a happy couple, a doting Mom and a dedicated father surrounding them. Even if they weren’t his family, it made him happy to be here.
“He didn’t leave for the academy and things…eventually developed.” Riza didn’t really want to have to explain things to a pair of kids. She was pretty happy her own daughter wasn’t going to be asking questions like this for several years, but she could see from the boy’s eyes that they were now intrigued by the Mustang Family history. She was only twenty! She shouldn’t have to talk about these kinds of things with a nine year old!
Ed was about to ask if that meant her father wanted Roy to stay to marry her or what, but Riza got up to make him tea. “So what job is better than being an alchemist!?”
Riza took a teacup out of the cupboard and looked at the chip in the cup. It used to be her mother’s set and through the years the dishes and cups had broken or been chipped so many times the cups were getting thin from the alchemic repairs. Each chip or crack caused a loss of material that couldn’t be added back in when it was repaired. What she had now was an odd array of sizes and weighted china. They didn’t have the money then, and they didn’t have any now. “He was going to join the military.”
Al looked at the newspaper from the weekend with highlights from the war. “I bet you’re glad he changed his mind! He could be in Ishval right now!”
Ed didn’t understand why he would want to be a dog of the state. “Why would he do that? He studied to be an alchemist. Why would he go be a soldier?”
“In case you didn’t notice,” Roy’s voice chimed in from the doorway as he came down cradling his tiny daughter. “Alchemy doesn’t exactly pay the bills. Sadly you two are the first people who actually paid us in cash, everyone else barters. I wanted a good job with decent pay to be able to provide for my family.”
Riza watched his eyes look up to her and she silently expressed that she wasn’t in the least bit disappointed in this life. She wasn’t, but he was the one who settled for this lifestyle. The city boy longed to return to the comforts he grew up with.
Roy sat down and looked at his baby. He didn’t want her to grow up like Riza did, running around in threadbare clothes and learning to live off the land. “I was going to go to the academy and after graduation come back to see if Master Hawkeye would finish teaching me and also ask Riza to marry me. I wanted to give her a better life than this, but I convinced myself then that I could somehow made a living helping people with my skills. Sadly, that hasn’t been the case. “
Riza frowned. She knew what he wasn’t saying, she knew he was considering accepting an invitation to take the state alchemy exam and be commissioned by the State. He was in town a month ago helping with a burning barn when a State Alchemist found him. A man who was sent to try and recruit him for the war effort, with patriotic words trying to entice him to help end the war quicker. That his country needed him. Roy came home deep in thought, knowing full well that a position like that would enable them to live a better life and maybe move to Central where his Mother was.
“Anyhow, I think you have a natural talent for Earth based alchemy and should keep going with that. It opens up a lot more doors for you than focusing on mine.” Roy said and watched Ed’s face face turn dark. “I’m not trying to father you kid, I’m telling you this as your teacher. You pay me to teach you and I’m trying to tell you where you’ll get the most for your money.”
“The war, should be over in a few months.”
Riza bit her lip as she tried not to cry on the train platform. Her husband stood before her in a crisp new uniform, a freshly commissioned Major and the State’s newest alchemist. She held their daughter in her arms as he held them both and caressed her belly where their second child grew. She was afraid to see him leave for the unknown, scared to be in Central by herself hoping he’d be back by the time she was ready to give birth and upset that he felt he had to do this. He was tired of subjecting his family to that old house in winter and with another child counting on him, he had to find a better job. The Elrics left in December, their training complete, and he took his exam soon after. “Don’t die.”
Roy gasped. “That’s a hell of a thing to say.”
“You come back to me, you hear me?” Riza’s hand grasped his lapel and tears began streaking down her face. They had been inseparable for the last few years and now he was going into a war zone without her. “You’re going where I can’t follow and that is killing me.”
“I have a protective detail.” He tried to assure her. “This Captain Hughes is going to meet me as soon as I get off the train and personally drive me to the front.”
“They’ve been saying the war will be over soon…for seven years. Roy…”
“Maybe it’s time I help bring it to a close so no more people have to die.” He said and heard the whistle on the train again. It was second call and any more hesitating would ensure he missed his train. He doubted the military would look highly upon him being late for his first day to work. “Like your father said, Flame Alchemy is the perfect weapon. Maybe I should use it to help bring this damned war to a close.”
Riza felt him step back and pick up his bag. Then a gentle kiss on her lips.
“I love you. I’ll see you soon.”
Al was frozen in place as the door to the house opened and their teacher marched in. Fury on his face, Granny Pinako hollering that the military had no right to barge into their home and finally Ed’s weak and maimed body being lifted from his wheelchair by Master Mustang.
“You idiot!” Roy screamed at Ed as he flinched and turned away from him. “You damned fool! You promised me you wouldn’t try human transmutation. You promised me!!”
Ed couldn’t pull back, he was airborne and held by his shirt in the air as Mustang growled at him.
“You idiot!!” Roy screamed and shook with rage.
“Master Mustang, please!” Al stepped forward and watched Roy’s anger fade away, to be replaced by shock. “Please, we already know we made a mistake.”
Roy looked up at the suit of armor, that voice unmistakable. “Al?”
“Sir, we already paid for our mistake.” Al heard a little shriek and looked to the doorway. There a young girl clutched her mother’s skirt and hand, hiding behind her Mom from the metal monster towering over her father. He saw the shock on Riza’s face as she held a young boy in her arm. “We didn’t listen.”
Ed felt himself set down and managed to look past the blue blur of Mustang to the doorway where the Mustang family stared at him like he was a horrible freak of nature. “I should have listened, but I thought I knew better. I thought I could make things right again. We just wanted to see Mom again…”
Roy knelt down in front of him, his features finally softening for the young apprentice who he let down. He should have known Ed was going to try something, the cocky little shit, instead he rushed away to war and forgot to check in with the kid. If only he had kept in touch. If only he had shown up a month earlier, he would have been here for the kids when they needed a mentor most. He let his own head fall and looked down at his chest, brass buttons glistening on his blue uniform. “I made a mistake too and a lot of innocent people paid the price for my naivety.”
Riza moved forward and put her arm around Al, she could hear the hollow voice echoing from within the shell of the armor and knew enough about alchemy to know he wasn’t playing dress up. Al, who just soaked up love and affection like a sponge was suddenly in a cold, empty suit of armor.
“I can’t feel.” Al said, a sob choking out from the metal as the little girl peaked out from behind her Mom at him.
“Yes you can.” Riza said. “Maybe not physically, but you can still feel how much we both missed you two. WE still care very much about you two.”
Ed felt her hand on his and he grasped it, tears welling in his eyes. “We’re so sorry.”
Roy felt his daughter’s hand on his and she clutched it with her own. Scared of these two strange men. His son slept away, head still on his mother’s shoulder where he fell asleep hours ago. “We can be sorry for the rest of eternity and it won’t fix anything. So, let’s talk about how we’re going to get your bodies back.”
One of the things I like about AUs is not only changing something vital and seeing where the story goes, but also seeing if the storyline can reconnect with the original after the ripple of the change.
I also didn’t give the RoyAi kids names because I am feeling super dumb this morning after a weekend of retail hell.
Chapter 9: Blind Date
A request for an AU where Riza never joined the military
“You’re going.” Roy Mustang’s voice was cold and emotionless and dared his subordinate to defy him.
Jean Havoc leaned over the desk and whispered, “It’s a girl Armstrong. Holy hell Roy, what the did I ever do to you?”
Roy leaned in closer and smirked. “You hit it off with Olivier just fine. I’m sure you’ll have no problems with Catherine.”
“Hit it off?” Havoc sunk to his knees in front of his superior’s desk. “I got this chill down my spine every time she looked at me. I like a woman who can take control in the bedroom, but not like that. God Roy, you try and perform under those kinds of conditions! Those blue eyes staring at you like a hungry wolf, cute little lips that hide the fangs behind them ready to rip you apart for the slightest mistake.”
Roy grinned and gave him one of those cocky smiles he reserved for just telling Havoc he dated one of his now ex-girlfriends. “It’s not uncharted territory Jean, I’ve been there and survived. She does bite, and hard, but you just got to be willing to try new things.”
“You bastard.” Havoc hissed. “Seriously? General Armstrong?”
“The key is to not show fear and take charge.” Roy sat back in his chair, “However Catherine is a little young for me so I guess you finally don’t have competition. Make a good impression Lieutenant.”
Havoc stared at him. He was trying to get his mind around a Mustang/Armstrong encounter and every situation he dreamed up, Roy was the one crying on the floor searching for his clothes as Olivier smoked and laughed in bed.
“I’ll drop you off at the Armstrong estate so you don’t forget your date.” Mustang grinned. He had no idea why torturing Havoc was so much fun. He was probably going to be the main reason he smoked himself to death by 40. “I’ll even pick up flowers for you to give to her to make a good impression.”
“Someone has to help you with your miserable love life.” Roy stood and grabbed his jacket off the back of his chair. It was time for his meeting with Grumman. “Otherwise you’ll probably die alone.”
“How about we make a friendly wager?”
Roy didn’t move his eyes from the chessboard. Grumman was not above moving pieces when he wasn’t looking. “On our game, sir? The one already in progress?”
“Yes.” Grumman wiggled his mustache and grinned.
“What would you like to wager?”
“How about you finally take my granddaughter out on a date?” Grumman said and moved his rook.
“This doesn’t have anything to do with the fact that our Lt. Havoc is going to dinner at the Armstrong’s, does it?” Roy asked and moved a pawn.
“You know damn well he’s dating Lt. Catalina, and now she’s ready to discharge a rocket launcher at your head.” Grumman made a show of thinking about his next move. “So, in order to take care of my own staff, I agreed to help you with your dating life.”
“I thought you liked your granddaughter?” Roy crossed his arms and waited. It was weird having Grumman constantly talk about setting him up with this girl he never met. He wasn’t sure if he should be flattered or worried.
“I think you overestimate your charm.”
“Ha!” Roy figured he’s turn the tables on the old man and do the unexpected. “Why make it a wager? I’ll just accept your kind offer and take the lovely lady out for dinner.”
“Oh no.” Grumman made his move. “I want to make sure you behave yourself. A man with your reputation….is not going to be left without a chaperon with my only grandchild!”
“So you had a specific event in mind?” Roy moved his knight and watched the old man sweep it off the board as he made a swift move.
“Military ball.” Grumman said and grinned as he moved his queen. “Checkmate.”
“Hmmm.” Roy cocked an eyebrow. “So, I expect that you will be escorting the lady in question and I’m going to be her entertainment while you mingle?”
“Yes. You don’t mind coming alone?” Grumman said innocently. “I know the rumors will fly, but a man as confident as you should have no problems showing up without a lady on your arm.”
“Also prevents me from socializing and trying to secure myself a move to Central.” Roy countered.
“That too.” Grumman checked. “I hate training new subordinates!”
“I would be honored, sir.” Roy gave him a polite smile, one that didn’t scream ‘you crafty geriatric bastard’.
“I hear my baby sister sent your male secretary running for the hills in the first five minutes.” Olivier Armstrong walked up with a champagne glass in her hand and waited for a response.
Roy shrugged. “Havoc’s just smitten with you Oliver. He likes older women.”
Olivier snorted. “Is that why you’re here alone?”
“Are you offering?” Roy smirked back and she laughed and walked away. He frowned, not quite upset at her rejection as he was pretty sure he still sported scars from the last time she granted him the privilege of trying to best her on the battlefield know as her bedroom.
He looked around and took out his pocket watch to verify the time. Grumman was taking his time getting to his reserved table, he could hear the man’s unmistakable laughter in the opposite corner of the room. Of course the good General was taking advantage of having a young lady on his arm and making the rounds, so Roy had yet to even lay an eye on the girl he was going to be babysitting today. Then again, Grumman was probably four years older then God so there was a possibility his granddaughter would be old enough to babysit him. Either way, the old man was clearly in charge of this board and was limiting his moves. He didn’t know if it was because he selfishly didn’t want to let go of the subordinate who was doing his best to secure promotion and ergo overachieving in his current job, or that he was genuinely trying to hold him back because he felt he was too young for Central. Whatever his reasoning, he was annoyed because the orchestra was playing one of his favorites and he was dying to dance. Just not willing to die for a dance and ask Olivier if she wanted to cause a commotion.
“Lieutenant Colonel Mustang…”
Roy heard the old man’s voice and turned, making sure his posture was parade ground perfect and his most warm and welcoming smile graced his face before he locked eyes with his date. Instead of looking like a handsome hero in blue, he must have looked like a deer caught in the headlights as he looked at a face out of his past.
Grumman wanted to burst out laughing as Mustang’s jaw almost hit the ground. That should show the cocky kid he didn’t see everything coming. “I’d like to introduce to you my granddaughter, Miss Riza Hawkeye.”
Roy saw a blush color Riza’s cheeks as she looked at the man she hadn’t seen since her father’s funeral. The man who was too ashamed to look her in the eye after Ishval, after he promised that she could trust him with her father’s secrets. How many times he wanted to call her, visit her hometown on furlough or just write a simple letter…but convinced himself she didn’t deserve to know what kind of a disappointment he had turned out to be. She looked amazing, her blue sequined dress hugged her every curve and his heart thumped and reminded him that they weren’t kids anymore. Her short hair framed her big, beautiful eyes and the tinge of pink on her cheeks. She was stunning.
“Mister Mustang.” Riza said politely and bit her lip as he stood frozen a few feet from her. She wanted to dig her nails into her grandfather’s hand for setting up this blind date, for making her think she was going to be spending some time with some braggart officer who needed to be kept in check for fear of embarrassing his boss. Well things had changed a lot, Roy had definitely grown up, so who was she to judge from just his looks what kind of person he was now. However the fact remained that Grandfather knew about them and deliberately kept them both in the dark. She’d take it up with him later as right now, she couldn’t peel her eyes away from Roy.
“Miss Hawkeye.” Roy finally found his tongue and watched Grumman fade into the crowd in his peripherals, his focus entirely on the golden hair beauty before him. “May I have this dance?”
Chapter 10: Slippery When Wet
aka That time when Roy went down on Riza in the shower-
Riza let the warm water beat down on her back after she finished rinsing off her hair. She took a sniff of her hair and wondered if it would be obvious that she was using Roy’s conditioner. His hair never really had a fragrance so she hoped it wouldn’t be a give away that she spent the night with him. It was the little things that help them from being caught and she was a little annoyed that he didn’t replenish her conditioner when he went shopping. It was good he had such a prestigious position and paycheck, this damned conditioner he used cost five times what it should. Then again, his hair was nothing short of perfection.
She heard the door to the bathroom creak open and groaned. “Roy, we’ve already talked about how showering together doesn’t work. You just grope and fondle me and it’s impossible to get clean together in here.”
Roy peaked around the shower curtain and smiled. “I wasn’t going to suggest we get clean. I have nothing but dirty thoughts.”
She couldn’t even open her mouth in time to say ‘No’, as he was already in the shower with her and kissing her neck. “Why are you so determined to prove sex in the shower is a viable option?”
Roy ran his hands over her hips and squeezed her butt cheeks, still slick with conditioner runoff from her hair. “I already proved multiple orgasms were a very viable option and you once told me that was pure fiction.”
She looked at that grin, that playful smile, and realized that rational thinking just wasn’t in his head right now. All he was thinking about was that doujinshi he was looking at the other day. “The next time you’re ordered to burn confiscated materials of the pornographic variety, you better not read them first.”
He smiled and kissed her nose and then her lips. “I put those non-slip things on the shower floor.”
“Which is why you forgot to buy my conditioner.”
“Style or Safety? Which one do you want me to prioritize?” He bent down to nibble on her ear, getting the shower spray in the face to drown out her retort.
“It’s still not going to work.” She jabbed her thumb into his rib cage to get his attention. “Roy, this is just stupid. One of us is going to end up hurt and I am not going to get turned on because I’ll be thinking of all the ways you’re going to end up injured in this process.”
He slid around her and let the water hit his back instead of hers. Then his hands rolled over her breasts and squeezed, thumbs delicately stroking her nipples and he rubbed his erection against her already slippery ass cheek. “Just because I’m wet doesn’t make me useless.”
She gasped as his right hand quickly rolled over her abdomen and slipped between her legs. “Roy, you’re going to get hurt.”
“I’ve been practicing.” He mumbled into her ear. “I know exactly how to position you for maximum stability. If your back is against the wall, one leg wrapped around me and one on the floor, I can put both hands on the wall and use these no-slip dolphin things under my feet to thrust against. I got this.”
“That’s not going to…” She felt her body tremble as his damned talented fingers slipped inside of her, his thumb rolling gently over her clit and his damned voice doing the rest of the work. His fucking voice. Roy could read the regulation manual to her in that tone and she would be uncomfortably wet in less than five minutes. Damn him. His fingers were removed and he drug them back up her folds, making her more than aware of how aroused she was by his attempt at the impossible. Shower sex. It was like playing twister on a vertical surface while standing on ice. Even once you found a position that didn’t endanger your life, it wasn’t the right combination to get a penis anywhere near the desired opening. Shower sex.
“Not going to what?” He asked, voice drenched with amusement and arousal. He was practically purring in her ear as her body reacted to every move of his hand.
“Why isn’t this good enough?” She asked and his finger slipped inside of her again, this time meeting no resistance as he had thoroughly worked her up.
He bit his lip as he almost said, ‘Well this isn’t a challenge’ but thought better of it immediately. “I want this, pretty bad.”
“Reality is nowhere near porn.” She squeaked and he took his hand away. He relocated both hands to her hips and turned her to face him. “This is just dangerous.”
“Riza…” He whispered and pushed her up against the shower wall. “Welcome to the dangerzone.”
She should have just ended it there, that should have been enough to turn her off and get her out of the shower. She could just throw him a bottle of lotion and tell him to take care of it himself, but no. She loved this dork and all the stupid fire puns and inappropriate comments that he made. So when he put his hands on the wall beside her and positioned himself just as he had ‘practiced’ she smiled back at that triumphant grin and let him give her a kiss.
“See, I’ll just have to squat a little and you’ll be able to just sit down on me and I can…” He tried to situate himself as he had planned but having another body in the shower was showing him that his battle plan wasn’t going to work. As always, it was hard to get a feel for the situation until you were on the field. Shit! If he showed weakness now she’d be out of the shower in an instant. She he took his hands off the wall and put them on her hips, under the guise of trying to re-position her, and he moved his foot forward further. Then he forgot that the slip-free dolphins weren’t everywhere on the floor. The ones that he ‘porpoise-fully positioned’ for his prior plan, no longer under his bare feet. There was something between him and the tile though, his conditioner. That marvel of modern hair care products that helped him maintain his fucking fabulous hair now coated his floor and foot, as well as his hand and Riza’s hip. That wonderful product that had to be made partially out of Teflon and magic harvested from the souls of unicorns finally let him down.
Riza watched the disaster from the safety of the dolphin applique. Roy’s foot went up first, his weight being oddly distributed didn’t help matters any. Then his hand slipped right off her hip like it was painted with silicon. What happened next was a tangled mess of limbs and naked Roy hitting the ledge of the shower stall with his head first. Somehow she managed to stay standing as crumbled onto the shower floor and she watched him sit up and blood start gushing from a wound on his forehead. Blood, poured off him and started circling the drain like some epic scene out of a horror film.
“And now you go to the hospital for stitches.” Riza shook her head and leaned over him to turn off the shower. “Why do you never listen to me?”
“I was listening to your body, and it said…’Yes Roy, take me against the shower wall like you’ve been day dreaming about doing for the last week.’” he flinched as she pushed back his sopping wet hair and looked at the injury.
“You need to start thinking with the right head.”
“They both are throbbing right now.” He whined and sat up. “Fuck. Does it really need stitches?”
“Yes.” She stepped out of the shower and grabbed a towel. “So come up with a story on how this happened or I’m telling the ER doctor you went down on me in the shower.”
He looked up at her with his apologetic puppy dog eyes as she threw a towel at him. “Well…I might have gone down…but that’s…not really a funny play on words considering the circumstances.”
“I told you this was going to happen.” She grunted and left the bathroom to go get dressed.
“Riza?” Roy looked at the towel covered in blood. “They have those old people shower seats in the hospital showers. I bet I can make that work.”
“No!” She hollered. “Get dressed or I’m calling your mother and telling her to take you to the hospital!”
“Well, no reason to do that.” He crawled out of the shower and over to the vanity, then stood up and looked at his head. Shit! That was going to leave a scar. “I don’t need a lecture on sex positions, I already have a headache.”
“What does the sign say in the bathroom at Christmas’s?”
“All employees must hands before going back to work?” He patted off his head and stuck a band-aid over the gash to try and keep the skin together and stop the flow of blood so he could get dressed without looking like he just participated in a massacre.
“No!” She came back to the bathroom, dressed and toweling off her hair. “No sex in the shower! It even has one of those OSHA safety drawings to illustrate exactly what just happened. You grew up there Roy, you looked at that little stick figure man bent in half with his neck snapped every damned day. So why did I just have to look at that mess in your own shower?”
“Because it was hot.” He mumbled. “Sorry Riza.”
“Honey, how many times do I have to tell you duct tape is not a band-aid? She slapped him on the ass and said, “Sit down on the toilet and I’ll wrap your stupid head so you don’t drip blood all over your apartment.”
“Sorry.” He pouted and sat down. So much for shower sex. Ever again.
Chapter 11: 50 Shades of Roy
Submission for fma_fic_contest prompt #284: Catch in the Throat. Fleshed out a little.
50 Shades of Roy
Roy swiveled back and forth in his chair as chewed on the pen cap in his mouth. He looked over at Hawkeye who was still diligently working on her paperwork and then shifted his glance up at the clock. His stomach growled it's protest as he realized it was now 2100. He crunched down on the pen cap out of frustration and the pen fell out of the housing and hit the floor. He quit swiveling and looked over at Hawkeye sheepishly before spitting the cap out. "I broke my pen, can't work anymore."
Riza didn't look up at him, it would only allow her to see how much work he didn't do in the last four hours. "I'm going to use the restroom."
The Colonel frowned as she stood and ignored his attempt to dismiss them for the evening. He looked at the stacks of forms on his desk and wondered where the hell it all came from. He took the small stack of completed work and stood up, hoping that if he proved he had done something he could earn a reprieve and finally go home. He walked over to her desk, put the stack neatly upon her blotter and then grabbed a new pen. Then he smiled and drew a cute little dog on her notepad in hopes of reminding her that her own puppy was in need of some outside time. He added a little pee puddle with the yellow highlighter just to drive home the point. Satisfied he turned and accidentally kicked over her bag.
He bent down to pick up what spilled out and noticed a romance novel on top. He always wondered what was in these things. Perhaps it would make the rest of the evening more interesting if he had something better to read other than requisition forms, furlough requests and damage claims. (Thanks Fullmetal). He went back over to his stack of work and sat down then opted to skip to the middle of the book assuming that's where all the raunchy sex scenes would be.
Riza returned and looked at the drawing on her notepad. "What's this supposed to be? A drowning muppet?"
He feigned hurt and looked at her over the tower of paper. "It's a puppy. Peeing."
She shook her head. "Rebecca is walking Hayate. Nice try."
Roy sank back down behind the paper wall and flipped a few pages before chuckling. He sat up straight and lifted the open book up to show her he had stolen her reading material. He raised it enough that he could still look over the top of the book but the rest of his face was hidden. Then he began to read. "Her nether regions quivered as his calloused hands cupped her delicate mounds."
Riza felt a blush tinge her cheeks and looked down at her bag. Oh no, he didn't...
"Her heart raced as he pulled her closer to his body and felt his manhood pressed against her hip." he snorted. "Manhood. God, who writes this? Toddlers?"
She looked over at him and those playful eyes watching her over the top of the book. His eyebrow gently raised and his dark hair framed the subtle tells of his mischief perfectly. She was glad he was covering his smirk behind that book, she doubted her ability to ignore him if she could see that. His voice was bad enough and there was a catch in her throat as she asked, "Branching out from alchemy books?"
"Curious as to why there are more of these printed annually than any other genre." He returned to words on the page and said. "His intentions were to deflower her, taking her most precious and delicate gift right there in the library...without even taking off his uniform."
Riza held her breath. Rebecca gave her that novel for a reason. She could still hear her laughing about it. Oh God, how the hell was she going to explain why she had that in her possession?
Roy he flipped the page and prepared to use one of his mock girl voices to read the next line. He kept his eyes on Riza and only glanced down to see the line and not comprehend it before he said it, "How dare you take liberties with me, Colonel Mustang..." He glanced down and read that again. "What? Why the hell am I in this!?"
""Sir, you're pretty popular with the ladies and...they all seem to want to take their turns riding Mustang."
"Someone wrote smut...about me!?" Roy suddenly sat bolt upright, his shock overriding his immaturity.
"A whole series." She informed him and waited for the inevitable. "50 Shades of Roy."
"And you're reading it!?"
"Rebecca thought it was funny so she..."
"She read this!? She's dating Havoc!" He stood up and narrowed his eyes at her. "You're reading this?"
"Technically, you're reading it to me." Riza replied.
"If I was going to read you something sexual, it wouldn't be from this book."
She replied so quickly she surprised herself. "And what book would you be reading from?"
"Art of the Bedchamber." He smirked and watched her cheeks flush before he realized he was having this conversation with his Lieutenant and not some girl at a bar.
She was used to covering his ass for him so as soon as she saw him realize how bad the conversation was going she felt obligated to try and give him a way out. "Isn't that the one with the bad translations? "
"It's better in Xingese." He smiled. "However even with the bad translations I think "kitten" is better than "nether regions" any day."
"Maybe we should just call it a night. Apparently I'm tired enough that I'm allowing you to lure me into lewd conversations."
"What exactly is a woman like you doing spending her spare time reading this crap for? You should have men lined up at your door begging to spend time with you, yet you're reading this garbage?" Roy slapped the book shut.
"I believe the last man that told me I was attractive was Barry the Chopper." She said and stood up to gather her things. Then bent down to pick up her bag before going over to take her book back. "And he's more obsessed with finding his own body than mine."
"A criminal..." He muttered and shook his head as she held her hand out for the book. "What's criminal is that you have to hear that from some disembodied soul and spend your nights alone reading some trash like this."
He just had no idea what compliments like that did to her, how she could feel her heart swell thinking that they meant something. She looked down as he dropped her book in her bag and wrapped his hand around hers.
Then without any hesitation he pulled her over to him and just kissed her. No stupid lines, no apologies...he simply couldn't suppress his feelings anymore. He spent half his workday trying to concentrate while he thought about her. Let her shoot him, let her file a harassment claim (Form 315C), he didn't care. Right at this moment, the biggest problem in this world was that Riza Hawkeye thought that she was only attractive to some deranged sardine can serial killer and was having to read romance novels to keep her company. Out of the millions of scenarios that he daydreamed about, he never thought their moment would be this one. He didn't push the kiss too far, just long enough to show her the emotions that fueled it and assure her that this wasn't just some act without backing.
She felt shell shocked. His kiss, his touch, his words all combined to just freeze her in this moment. It lasted briefly as she realized that she had to do something other than stand there enjoying his scent. "The book says you taste angelic...I didn't realize Jack Daniels was an angel."
So this was their moment, the moment that all that tension finally came to something and she was playfully teasing him about it. Damn. Could she be any more perfect? Her hands were on his chest, ever so slightly rubbing him and poised to make the move to wrap one of her hands around his neck. He wanted to tell her it was fine, that he'd love to feel her touch him and take his breath away but he knew why she was frozen in place. She didn't want to torture herself with the promise of something more, anymore than he did. So they stood here, embracing, trying to make this moment last as long as it could because there was nothing but uncertainly in the moment after. He cleared his throat and whispered, "Well you know that old nursery rhyme? Little girls are made of sugar and spice and everything nice? Well angels are made of corn, water and yeast. They leave it out of the rhyme because it didn't translate well and they don't want to give any alchemists a list of ingredients for angels."
"Apparently you're not the smooth talking heartthrob these books make you out to be." She said and tried to calm down her heart rate. She looked into his eyes and soft, a pleading expression on his face and realized he was letting her make the next move. That she could move her chess piece closer to him or remain distant. That this moment would be either the start of something for them or a promise of something to come later. How much later? Could they really go one for years like they had been, with just the memory of this moment to keep them going? It's why she couldn't do more than half-heartedly joke about this, she was terrified of the ramifications of her decision. Either one. So here they stood in the moment that would define them from here on out. "But I like this version of you better."
He pulled her back to kiss her again since it didn't end with him being beaten, shot, slapped or spanked. Though he technically wouldn't mind the last one. "I'd like to say I'm sorry, but I'm not. I've been wanting to do that for a very long time. Will you have dinner with me?"
"Why the hell not? Right now I can't keep my mind off you anyway, what's it going to hurt if we make something of this?" He leaned in closer to her ear and whispered, "It's the book of the month and we're discussing it. Let's discuss it over dinner."
"Will it be warm and moist?" She asked and held her breath to stop from laughing.
Roy bit his lip and tried to keep a straight face, "I thought you said you didn't read these things?"
"I've read cookbooks." She let a smile creep to her lips and he bent down to kiss her again.
"Are we dismissed for the evening, Lieutenant?" He asked as he placed his forehead against hers. "I'd hate to make you late for your date tonight."
Chapter 12: They're Coming
The screams echoes through the house, a high pitched wail that still managed to vibrate his eardrums as he lay there wondering how everything went so damned wrong. At what point in his life did Roy Mustang forget that he never fully comprehended the consequences of his decisions? Why the hell was he so flippant when it came to life altering choices? He moaned as he heard another shriek from and the thunderous crash that signified they were coming for him.
Why the hell did they have kids?
It was something he found himself asking every Saturday morning when he discovered that small children woke in the ungodly hours of the pre-dawn morning to demand attention, food and entertainment. He looked at the clock, 4:35 am. Then the screams became cries. Not just crying, no, it was something only his daughter managed to produce from her tiny little lungs. Something between an air raid siren and a wail of a tortured soul from the deepest pit of hell.
Why the hell did they have kids?
His son was stomping up the stairs in an effort to wake him, even though the brat would deny it. How could something so small produce so much force? He pulled the pillow over his head and ignored it. He just wanted some damned sleep! He wanted to sleep in, he wanted to wake up next to his wife again and spend the morning tracing her body with his fingers in an attempt to convince her that morning sex was better than breakfast. He wanted to wake up. Not just be jarred out of his sleep by an alarm, an irritated secretary or a screaming child, he wanted to remember what it was like to wake up after too much sleep and not give a damn it if was almost noon.
"Riza, why did we have kids?"
Riza snorted and kept her eyes shut. It was funny that the one thing Roy would complain about was the fact that their kids woke them up. Not that they set the backyard on fire. Not the fact that unorganized his library and colored in the transmutation circles in his alchemy texts. Nothing upset him about their kids except that he could never sleep in. That was it. However he made it seem like the most horrible offense known to mankind, every damned Saturday. It was a game now, to see who flinched first. Who would grudgingly give in to the annoyances and possibly panic as their beloved children woke them for the day. "I'm not getting up."
"Well neither am I." Roy whispered back.
"Your son is probably getting ready to start a house fire."
"Well Elizabeth already woke the dead with her screaming. At least the zombies will walk right past the burning house and we can just die in peace." Roy pulled the pillow against his head harder. "Why are they always MY kids?"
She could make out his mumbles through the pillow. Years of being by Roy's side made her fluent in his incoherent mumbles. "Well their destructive capabilities alone rule out all the other perspective fathers."
The pillow flew to the floor. "Riza, that is never funny."
"It never ceases to stop your whining." She nuzzled her head back into her pillow.
Then the door opened and creaked loudly. Roy clamped his eyes shut, hoping that the child wouldn't smell his lack of desire to be a responsible adult right now. However what children preyed upon was exhaustion. They had a six sense that could smell fear of adults who weren't parents and also parents who didn't feel like being adults. Right now Roy was scared his precious sleep would finally be wrestled away from him and he wouldn't see it again until Monday when he snuggled up with his desk and passed out.
They only ever wanted him on the weekends. They couldn't even rattle off the days of the week with any level of consistency but they knew when it was the weekend. Maybe if he didn't answer, he'd go away. It was always his first instinct, that hope that he could just get a few more minutes...
"Daddy, I made fire."
Shit! Two things in his life that could make him wake up like this. The dog puking and his frickin son telling him he lit something on fire! He eyes were immediately open and he was instantly awake as he looked at the figure in the darkness right in front of his face. "You what?"
"I can't control it."
So the sheets were thrown off and his bare feet hit the rug. His hand pulling his wandering pajama pants up over his hip as he trudged out of the bedroom and into the house. His little raven haired son paddling behind him as he shielded his eyes from the light of the hallway. They couldn't reach the sink to brush their teeth but somehow they could reach every damned light switch in the house! They'd turn every one on too, the Mustang household was probably a beacon for space travelers just like the North Star was for them. He never understood how the Elrics could perform human transmutation at such a young age, then he had kids of his own and understood. Oh God, he understood that there was a whole universe of destruction available to someone so young and apparently...right here and now that place was his kitchen.
"I made it with grease."
It was the voice of innocence from behind him that just mocked him as he stood there amazed. There was a point when you just stopped being surprised and he was long past that stage. There was a frying pan, a frying pan he neglected to clean yesterday after he made breakfast, in the middle of his kitchen on fire. How the hell did he reach the stove!? "Maes, I told you that you needed to learn alchemy from a teacher didn't I? You can't just experiment, it's dangerous."
Maes Mustang looked at the fire in the kitchen and shrugged. He played his get our of jail free card, "I just want to be like you Dad."
Roy found a lid and dropped it onto the frying pan, the smell of burning bacon now permeating the room. He glanced over at the dewy eyes of the child and could just hear his namesake laughing in the afterlife. Either because Elicia was an angel or Maes neglected to mention all the diapers, puking, mayhem and lack of sleep when he fussed over parenthood. And I named my kid after you, you lying bastard! "Which is why I told you when you were old enough I'd send you to apprentice with Uncle Ed."
"I don't want to wait." Maes pouted. "And you told me you won't teach me flame alchemy so I have to learn it on my own."
The logic patterns of these kids also seemed like evasive maneuvers. He picked up the boy and remembered Elizabeth was still screaming upstairs. He carried the boy up stairs to the den of deafening screams. "Stop setting thing on fire. That's not flame alchemy, it's arson."
"Argon is a noble gas."
Roy glanced at the boy, the power of redirection was strong in this one. "Don't change the subject. You know I said arson."
"It's really no wonder that we wake up to disasters like this when you're discussing felonies before 5 am." Riza chided as she held her screaming daughter in her arms at the top of the stairs. She shook her head and walked back to the bedroom, Elizabeth's cries were waning and turning into sniffles and pitiful teary eyes.
"It's a crime to wake your parents at this time of the morning." Roy said and Maes said nothing as they went back into their bedroom. He tossed the boy into the middle of the bed and tried to ignore the kid's smile denoting this was his plan all along. Hayate finally got up and stretched, then joined his family on the bed. Elizabeth was already asleep by the time her head hit the pillow and both parents crawled back into bed ignoring the agreement they had made last weekend about taking a stand on this matter. Who gave a damn if the kids crawled into your bed when it wasn't even 5am? He didn't, not right now, and frankly it seemed like a stupid thing to care about.
"Why does it smell like bacon?" Riza asked as Maes crawled up next to his sister and pulled the blankets away from his Dad.
"You don't want to know." Roy threw the blanket over the two kids and dog as he got up to grab his pillow and returned to the bed to get comfortable. He readjusted and tried to cover himself back up but found the blankets too short and it barely covered his shoulder. So he got back up, and grabbed a hold of the sheets and blankets and prepared to pull. "Wonder how so many blankets got over on your side, Riza...darling?"
She chuckled and let him pull everything over his way, Hayate curled on the mass of moving bedding didn't move an inch. Now he was right where Roy's feet would go and she knew he wouldn't disturb the dog. "Go back to sleep, do you have any idea what time it is?"
He crawled back into bed and slung an arm over his family and closed his eyes. "Shhh...woman I'm trying to sleep."
Chapter 13: Misfire
AN: For a Tumblr request: Riza doesn't join the military but still saves Roy during the battle with Scar.
What happens in the car is just purely me having fun with Team Mustang.
Breda narrowly avoided another collision with a oncoming car and silently Fuery and Havoc thanked God that they didn't let Mustang get behind the wheel. Havoc ground the end of the unlit cigarette between his teeth, happy to lose some precious tobacco instead of enamel. His dentist was none too understanding when he explained that his boss's driving and dating habits were the root of his teeth grinding problem. So, his solution had been to just grind cigarettes to a pulp instead, as Mustang got pissed about him smoking so much.
So the First Lieutenant glanced over at his superior who was staring out the window, his clenched jaw resting on his fist as his elbow perched steadily on the door. He knew Roy probably got the same lectures from his dentist, though he probably knew some mystical alchemy that would replace all the enamel he lost because of the Elric brothers.
Sargent Kain Fuery shrieked again and clutched his backpack of radio equipment to his chest as he slammed his eyelids shut. Breda had been driving on the wrong side of the road for at least six blocks in order to avoid traffic during rush hour and get to the other side of the city. News had come in fifteen minutes earlier of a sighting of Scar, quickly followed by a report of a Knight in shining armor and his dwarf sage engaging him in battle. Hughes and Armstrong were already on their way, the Elrics presumable still fighting Scar on their own. So they were driving fast, faster than any sane person would, in order to assist the young alchemists. As oncoming cars honked and the red haired Lieutenant gave them the finger, he press down the accelerator as he did so. Fuery was quite sure he was going to die.
"Can't you go any faster, Breda?"
Heymans didn't bother shifting his eyes away from the road to look in the rear view mirror. He could hear Havoc spit out some tobacco in response to Mustang's ever so casual instructions to go even faster. Fuery started to mutter some prayers and he clenched the steering wheel as he replied, "Colonel, you're not going to do the Elrics any good if I kill you before Scar has the chance."
Havoc watched Mustang's eyes leave the window for a moment as he mulled over that comment. How the man could even be looking out the window without getting car sick was a feat in itself, they were whizzing by cars so fast it was just a blur of color and honking.
"What makes you think I'm going to lose to him, Lieutenant?" Mustang asked and Breda actually laughed.
"That's right! If your alchemy doesn't work we can always let you get behind the wheel of the car." Breda shot back.
Havoc smiled and turned quickly as Mustang shot him an angry look. "Better get on the radio, Fuery, and request an evacuation of the Market District if the Colonel's going to drive."
Mustang saw Fuery reach for the radio and snapped. "He wasn't serious Sargent."
"Like hell we weren't." Breda let off the gas momentarily as the light changed and laid on the horn as he ran the red light.
Mustang sat back into his seat and rolled his eyes. "I passed my drivers test thank you very much."
"You had sex with the instructor in the back seat while I drove the car." Havoc griped. "I accidentally caught a glimpse of your ass while I was trying to parallel park. Shit Roy, if I wasn't afraid of dying while you drove 10 miles per hour on a mock course why the hell would I volunteer to do that?"
"I just figured you were getting tired of going home and masturbating after I stole your dates." Roy shrugged nonchalantly. "Needed a little more sensory stimulation to get you through it these days. I mean, God Jean, it's been a while since you got a girl past the phone number stage."
"Only because some asshole keeps showing up and burning my phone number and handing out his business card." Havoc countered
"I let you watch." Roy shrugged. "Free of charge."
"I didn't watch!" Havoc spat tobacco bits across the car. "And you were going to charge me!?"
Breda sighed as they argued like teenagers in the back seat. He was going to have to tell Falman how lucky he was that he was on vacation. Fuery was still cowering in the passenger seat so he reached out and pet his head. "It's OK kiddo, just because Mommy and Daddy fight doesn't mean they don't love each other."
Fuery cringed as the cries of "WHAT!?" from the back seat threatened to burst his ear drums. It silenced as soon as Breda slammed on the brakes and both men flew into the seats in front of them.
"We're here." Breda said and looked at the small disaster area that signified that the Elrics were in the vicinity.
Roy jumped out of the car and his onyx eyes locked onto Maes Hughes immediately. Some days he hated his team. "Report, Hughes."
Hughes leaned around a truck and pointed in the direction of the most noise. "Elrics are banged up and out of commission. Armstrong is fighting him. Lots of bulging muscles and semi nude men down there. I'm not getting involved."
"It's not strip poker Maes." Roy growled and tugged on his gloves in anticipation of strutting into the intersection and saving the day. "It wouldn't kill you to lend the Major a hand."
Hughes shook his head. "Nope. I've got a family to think of. I'll let you be the hero, you need the help making yourself appealing enough to marry."
"Once again, it's not strip poker." Roy hissed and stormed off to the battle raging between the serial killer and the strong arm alchemist. A battle of brawn and bronzed skin. He was thinking so hard about his witty entrance that he didn't even notice it starting to drizzle.
Havoc finally lit his cigarette as he trotted up behind Mustang to remind him that the weather forecast wasn't in his favor, so less fireworks and more bullets would be in his best interest. However, Roy Mustang was in his element and wasn't going to hear his protests. Before Havoc could speak a word of caution, Roy was already throwing off his black trench coat like a matador.
Roy took one look at the broken Elrics and his anger took a hold of him. Scar threw Armstrong across the road and turned to him and they locked eyes. The Ishvalian took notice of his gloves and stole his thunder by calling out the first fighting words.
"Another State Alchemist." Scar hissed. "You're making this too easy for me to hunt you down."
"I won't be so easy tossed aside." Roy thought about going for his gun, but there was something satisfying about fighting with the alchemy the man detested so much.
It was at this point that Breda noticed the arrival of their commanding General, Grumman. Grumman was known for being eccentric, but bringing his much much much younger date to the back alley alchemist battle seemed like a little too weird. Then again, it was probably cheaper than front row tickets to an actual fight and the blond was clearly pretty into the match-up. In fact, she even brought her own gun.
Edward Elric watched from the sidelines, his automail destroyed once again and unable to do anything but sulk on the grungy sidewalk. He wanted to call out, tell the Colonel that Scar was quicker than he looked and had some destructive power at this fingertips that he couldn't even begin to explain. He wanted to, but everything happened so fast that the words never left his mouth. What did happen, however, is a story he would tell to his dying day.
Roy held out his hand to snap, paused momentarily to flash a cocky smirk, and then waited for Scar to get close enough so that he wouldn't endanger anyone else with the impressive display of flame alchemy. This would be a moment that he would reenact for his future children when he put them to bed at night. Their little eyes tearing up with pride and awe as their amazing Fuhrer Flame Alchemist father stopped a serial killer's rampage with just the snap of his fingers. Just...like...this.
The snap came and nothing happened. Just a little puff of smoke as the transmutation failed due to precipitation and a 'mostly cloudy' forecast. Roy's eyes grew wide as he looked at the oncoming hand of his attacker, a glow of alchemic doom swiftly closing in on his head. Then he was quite literally swept off his feet by the most incredible woman he had ever laid eyes on.
Ed watched Mustang fall backwards with as little grace as humanly possible. His arms flew out to his side, his mouth was wide open and his eyes looked like they were about ready to pop out of his head. Then a woman in a long, high-backed black evening gown took center stage and leveled her gun at Scar. The Ishvalian dodged her first shot and pushed her arm away preventing her from firing again, but she lashed out with a long leg and nailed him in the elbow with the toe of her heels. The woman in the dress jumped back, knelt down on the splayed flap of the Colonel's pants and unloaded her gun at Scar. Ed didn't think Mustang's eyes could get wider but he proved him wrong as all he saw was the whites of his eyes. Then the Colonel almost unhinged and his jaw when the woman reached back, pulled his gun from his holster and emptied it at the Ishvalian as well.
Havoc let his cigarette fall from his lips as the blond haired beauty managed to not only save the Colonel's ass, but also wound Scar. Alex Armstrong stood up out of the rumble, flexing and sparkling, ready for action. It was then that the Alchemist serial killer darted down a small alley and climbed a fire escape to evade capture. The soldiers opened fire and the last they saw of him was a flutter of cloth as he jumped onto the roof.
Roy didn't remember the last time he actually blinked, as he just couldn't pull his eyes away from her. The glorious heels. The way her shapely and smooth leg with the thigh holster was exposed thanks to the slit in the shimmering evening gown. Oh, thigh holsters really were his weakness. The way the silk clung to the curve of her ass and how her long blond hair fell over her back like a golden cascade of soft heaven. Her arms were muscular and her hands looked as comfortable holding his Colt 1911 as he suspected she would look holding a glass of fine wine. He couldn't blink, he didn't want to miss the mystery woman's face when she turned around. For the moment, he didn't even realize he was laying in a damned puddle nor that the rain was increasing in intensity and plastering his fine black hair to his head.
"Roy, you know water makes you impotent. What the hell were you thinking?"
Then he blinked. Then he blinked again. Then Havoc walked over with his umbrella and held it over his head.
"Aw Snap." Havoc said with a chuckle. "Looks like someone got burned. Just not by you , soggy match."
Roy was about to sock him with his a soggy fist and ask if that burned at all, but then she turned around. He looked up at a face out of his past and opened his mouth to say something but the voice he herd wasn't his own.
It was Havoc! Roy turned to glare at him but the Lieutenant was already standing up and walking over to her. He sat up, appalled that Havoc would dare call "dibs" on Riza. Little Riza. Well not anymore. She was grown up and...damn.
"My lady, perhaps I can offer you an umbrella and escort you to your vehicle?" Havoc asked gallantly.
"Havoc!" Roy spat out incredulously. What the hell just happened?
Riza gave him a smile of thanks and as they walked over to Roy she bent down to hand him his gun back. "When was the last time you cleaned that Colonel? You know maintenance is very important. That slide is sticky."
Roy squeaked as she placed his gun in his open hand onto his soaking wet glove. Then she reached down between his spread legs and picked up her own empty firearm. If he had a weak heart, he would have died right there.
"You wouldn't want to have issues firing it when you need it, now would you?" She stood up and watched his eyes follow her hand as she pushed back her dress and returned her gun to it's holster.
"Riza?" Roy asked incredulously. Where the hell was the awkward blushing teenager he saw at Hawkeye's funeral?
"It's good to see you again Roy." She said honestly. Even though he was sitting on his ass in a dirty, oil coated puddle, with his empty firearm in his hand, soaked ignition gloves and a head of dripping wet hair stuck to his slack jawed face he still stirred feelings she had categorized as a stupid childhood crush. "Perhaps we can catch up later? My grandfather is waiting on me."
Grandfather? Roy couldn't do anything but turn around and watch as she walked away on Havoc's arm, the blond Lieutenant had a spring to his step now that he was next to such a beautiful and incredible woman. In fact, as she walked back to her car the sea of blue uniforms parted and just about every man gave her a look of appreciation and admiration. Breda and Fuery were no exception. They both looked like they had been struck by cupid's arrow or had just seen an angel. All looks she very well deserved. Then the real kick to the nuts was when she took Grumman's arm and he gave Mustang a laugh and mock salute.
The words he had heard so many times drifted through his head. Maybe you might be interested in marrying my granddaughter? A young man like you without a wife, well that just comes across as unsettled. You'd really like her.
Then the words he didn't recall coming from his superior's mouth drifted to his ears. "Impotent Colonel." That was because they came from some smart-assed kid slumped against a wall with a broken arm. "Shut up Fullmetal."
Riza couldn't stop thinking about Roy the entire night and she knew her grandfather caught on to it. Every time he had to say her name to get her attention there was that knowing grin on his face when she looked at him. All she kept thinking was that Roy really was a long way away from the awkward apprentice of her father's. Not that he hadn't always been attractive, but there was a difference between cute and damn hot. Still, he probably changed a lot since those days. Just like she had.
Damn, she was doing it again. "Sorry, Grandfather. What were you saying?"
She looked across the table at his innocent grin, but the old man was far from innocent. "Who?"
"Your impotent Colonel." Grumman chuckled. Damn, that should take the arrogant shit down a few pegs.
"It's no wonder, if he can't figure out how to pay attention to the weather." She reached for her wine and let the 'impotent' remark slide. Nice choice of words, Riza. She was just so angry at him for not paying attention to the environment. He knew better! "He struggled with it when he was working on Father's notes."
"Oh?" Grumman snorted. "I thought you swore there was nothing, not even a kiss goodbye, between you two."
She glared at him. He was horrible. "The alchemy. He's so narrow-minded when he starts to focus on the transmutation that he doesn't notice the rain. The gloves were the best option but they had their failings. How he can manipulate the atmosphere without considering the rain is beyond me."
"Seems like all we've talked about tonight is my subordinate." Grumman said and looked around the restaurant. He was surprised Mustang wasn't already here, strolling in with some rented woman from Christmas's on his arm pretending he wasn't here to secure some time with the woman who just saved his ass. "However that's why I thought you'd be interested in serving as his bodyguard. You see what I have to deal with? I know he's an officer, but he's still a valuable weapon and the Fuhrer will have me shot if the fool dies while he's under my command."
"I don't know." She toyed with her napkin and considered working with him again. They always did work so well together but that was different from a military position. They were so young and learning alchemy was a long way from a full time job.
"Unless you're looking to pursue...other options of guarding his body?" Grumman chuckled.
She tried to glare at him but he was laughing too hard to notice. "You're horrible."
"I'm serious. He's got a horrible reputation but I see through it. He'll do anything for his men and protects those Elrics as much as he can. He's got aspirations, you know. He's going to need a good woman beside him to get there." The old General watched his granddaughter shake her head.
"I'm confused. Exactly what are you pushing for?" Riza asked and narrowed her eyes at him. "A bodyguard or a wife? You can't have both and I'm not sure I want either position."
"I'd love great-grandchildren but I guess I'll have to ask him more about that 'impotent' problem of his next time we play chess." Grumman chuckled. Oh, this was the best night ever.
"Grandfather. What do you want?" She repeated.
"I want to pee." Grumman said and threw his napkin down. "I'm an old man and can't drink that much wine and not have to go to the little boys room every ten minutes. Ugh, don't get old Riza."
She shook her head. He was aggravating, however it gave her some time to think about this evening's events. When Grumman had invited her to stay with him he immediately informed her of how her father's old apprentice was doing. It was no secret that the Flame Alchemist was doing well. She had followed his career as closely as she could from the newspapers that arrived at her father's home. Had things worked out differently, she would have followed him into the military to watch over him and her secret. Instead she went home to board up the windows in preparation of leaving for years, fell and broke her arm. Damned, rotted old ladder sent her future in a different direction and she couldn't help but wonder what she missed out on. Almost on cue, the seat across from her was occupied by a new individual.
"What kind of a man leaves a beautiful woman like you alone to eat by herself?" Roy asked as she didn't even bat an eye at his intrusion.
"You." She said casually even though her heart rate sped up. "You never came to dinner, I always had to bring it to you."
He bit his lip. "Well I was a blind fool."
"Was?" She huffed. "Roy Mustang, you almost were a dead fool today. What is wrong with you? How could you just walk out there in the rain to confront that serial killer? What would have happened had I not been there?"
This wasn't going how he planned. "I would have never known you were in town."
"I'm here visiting my grandfather." She said. "Who will be back any minute and he is in a mood. Unless you are prepared to answer fertility questions, you best get out of his seat."
"No, he won't be back." Roy said and regretted being left with the duty to inform her that this was Grumman's little plan. How the General's call had come in when he walked into his apartment and told him that if he hurried, he might just get a free dinner with a lovely young woman. So he quickly peeled off his soaking wet uniform, took the world's fastest shower, dressed and rushed over. His car was parked on the sidewalk two blocks down, he wasn't going to loop the block again looking for a spot. They could tow the damned thing for all he cared. "He sort of...left."
She threw her napkin down on the table. "Meddling old man."
"So, can we catch up?" Roy asked. "You saved my life tonight, I'd like to pay you back somehow."
She looked over at him and couldn't say no. He looked incredible in a three piece suit and slicked back hair and she was dying to find out if he changed since those days. "How did we lose touch Roy?"
He toyed with the eating utensils. "I wasn't brave enough to face you and tell you what I did with the secrets you gave me. After Ishval, I just couldn't."
"Can you tell me now?" She asked. "Or are you going to keep avoiding me?"
"Riza, if you knew how hard it was to not look for you when I needed to make sense of it all..."
"Why didn't you? It was my burden too. I gave you the information, helped you with the gloves...then I never heard from you again." She saw him look up with sorrow filled eyes and knew that there was so much more to this. "However I think we need to start with something a little less intense."
He loved how she could always read his face. "Thank you for saving my life."
"What in the world possessed you to just stroll out there in the rain?" She asked and saw him relax and settle into the chair.
"I lost my temper, stopped thinking clearly. He was trying to kill these two kids I have under my command..."
"Not how it looked from where I was standing." She said wryly. "It looked like you were a little too cocky."
"Something I'm sure I won't forget now that you taught Fullmetal the word 'impotent' and he's going to use it every chance he gets." Roy reached for the wine and figured it wouldn't hurt to just finish off the glass.
"Better your injured ego than body." She said and he lifted his eyes to her A smile formed on his face.
"After your...rescue, I dare say there will quite a few men willing to sacrifice both to have you save them from their stupidity."
"Don't make it a habit, Mustang." She said. "I might not be there next time."
"I have a lot of bad habits." He said softly. "Maybe you can stick around and try to correct some of those."
"You've yet to make it past the first date." She said coyly.
"Challenge accepted." He replied and filled her wine glass. "You look great, by the way."
"So do you." She blushed a little and looked at the wine in her glass instead of him. "I missed you."
"I missed you too." He said and watched her eyes return to his as he put the wine back into the ice bucket. "I missed you kicking my ass and calling me out on my bullshit."
"Is that all?" She asked jokingly and saw a serious expression affix to his face for the first time today.
"No." He said it softly and reached over to take her hand. "You're one of a kind, Riza. You may not have known it, but you got me though some really rough times and I'm sorry it's taken me so long to tell you that."
She squeezed his hand and hoped that they could go back to those days when they would sit in the grass and talk about everything. God and fate, science and religion and life and death. From his sisters and the life they lived to how many kids they thought they wanted. To think that chatty youth was still buried inside him somewhere made her wonder if he still scoffed at the notion of fate. A discussion for another time, certainly heavy material for the first date. "So how is your apprentice?"
Roy snorted. "Fullmetal? Not my apprentice, more like a pretentious ass, but he's alright. He's a tough kid."
She folded her hands and he sat back in his chair as he started to tell her about how he came to find the young alchemist, his team and the goals he set for himself to make amends for what he did during the war. She listened intently, enjoying his honestly and enthusiasm and his rich voice that sent tingles down her spine. Her grandfather's words came back to her as the restaurant emptied out and they got ready to close for the night. A position was vacant on his team, but it was going to be up to her which path she chose to take.
Chapter 14: Family
AN: This is because of some Wii game screencaps. (They're a bad influence.) A picture prompt I did on Tumblr.
Riza took a deep breath as she prepared herself to enter the ballroom. The Armstrongs always had interesting parties and it made her glad she was never invited to the 'special invitation' events they hosted. The sprawling estate was everything one imagined the home of the illustrious family would be, right down to the bronze statues and fancy tuna. Every room was thoroughly adorned with paintings of the family, the floors sparkled (thanks to Armstrong family famous recipe floor wax) and it was warm while still being imposing. The ballroom was decorated as if they were hosting a illustrious event and not just a party for a few friends. It was over the top and very ostentatious, yet somehow Alex managed to outshine the garish party decorations by wearing something uniquely him. Today it was a sparkling purple sequined jacket and Riza was glad he chose it over the thong he had been wearing at the pool earlier.
She was also thankful that the man gave the Elrics and Winry the opportunity to act like kids in his ancestral home, but she didn't know why he gave Roy the opportunity to act like a kid along with them. He never needed much coaxing to act like a child so for Roy and Ed to be in the same room, more-or-less the same pool, was a interesting judgment call. Alchemists were a destructive force of nature in their own right, the two most immature ones were even worse. Alex should have known better.
The events of the afternoon were well behind her and right now her concern was her dress. She was still uncomfortably shifting around in it trying to get the fabric to conform to her better. It was clingy in places that defied physics. She had Roy to thank for that, as the dress was picked out months ago for a function in East City and she grabbed it without trying it on only to find out it didn't quit fit anymore. Roy assured her he could fix it with alchemy, he would just make it a touch shorter and it would be perfect. He needed to stop reading Breda's fanfiction, because 'hug her every curve in all the right places' was not good when applied to her dress. Talk about someone who should have known better. She got behind a statue and shifted her boobs around in the dress that might as well have been painted on.
"I think it looks great." Roy said as he swirled his ice in the scotch and smiled at her.
"I'm not happy with you at all right now." Riza snapped and watched her breasts shift right back into the place they had been. This dress was like a monster all it's own.
He frowned. "Sorry about the dress, I just..."
"It didn't fit so you made it tighter?" She hissed. God she was just about ready to leave him here to fend off Catherine's affections on his own. That cute little girl was currently showing Havoc the museum of sex toys passed down in the Armstrong family for generations. Breda was still hyperventilating and laughing though tears in the bathroom because his best friend thought the glass pieces were 'sculptures' and not toys. 'Pleasing to the eye and body' was the words the sweet looking girl had used and when Jean followed her into the den without questioning that, Heymans didn't stop him. Roy almost deserved to suffer though the girl's advances and have to fend them off, he deserved a lot worse for creating this damned dress.
"Sorry." He reached out to try and touch her arm and she almost hit him while trying to readjust the dress. "Want me to try again?"
"No!" She growled. "You've done enough!"
He looked at her again and tried to wipe off his smile, but it just was chiseled on his face today. He hid it with his drink instead. "Want me to get you a drink?"
She glared at him.
"Water?" He asked and turned around. "Water it is."
Riza told herself she just had to get through this one night and then she could get back into something more comfortable. She walked over to the buffet table and looked at the display of food. Alphonse was jotting things down in his book, Ed was sampling and Winry was delighted to see someone who wasn't an immature teenage boy. Riza had to admit, she was glad too. "Winry, are you enjoying yourself?"
"I would be if the boys didn't remove all the water from the pool with alchemy." Winry said without bothering to tone it down.
"Yes, the Colonel setting the lawn on fire with citronella oil and tiki torches was hardly his best moment either." Riza said dryly.
Roy paused as he heard that and gave her weak smile of apology as he handed her her a wine glass filled with water. Then he went over to Armstrong to talk about the damages to the pool and the prospect of blaming it all on Ed. He stood behind Riza and Armstrong babbled about Havoc and Catherine being so cute together and something about his baby sister's enthusiasm for toys. He ignored him, there wasn't anything that could take his eyes off Riza right now, nor wipe the smile off his face as he looked at her.
Winry sipped her lemonade and noticed something a little off about Riza. Was it the dress? "That's an interesting dress."
Riza nodded and self consciously tried to smooth it out and make it less bizarre. "It defies the laws of fabric and gravity, a new line of alchemy inspired fashion."
Winry looked over at Mustang who had some dumb smile on his face as he stared at Riza. "Well, I wish I could say I didn't understand, however I have been the victim of a few helpful fashion transmutations gone wrong."
Riza drank some water and hoped the girl would just move on.
"Why didn't you swim with us today...well before the guys blew all the water out of the pool and turned the yard into a wildfire?" Winry couldn't stop looking at Mustang's face. He had this dopey smile, completely lost in his own world as he stared at Riza. He was always so much better at hiding it, but today he just didn't seem to care.
"I could see the lurking danger in getting in the kiddie pool. I figured I'd wait for the adult swim." Riza said and a server came by to offer her a refill on her drink. "No thanks, I'm just drinking water."
"Water?" Riza was drinking water at a party? Roy was still looking weird and it wasn't because of the kinky stuff Armstrong was telling him. Winry jokingly said, "You're not pregnant are you?"
Riza felt her cheeks flush and immediately put the glass to her lips and tried to calm down her panic as she heard Armstrong gasp.
"Oh..." Alex closed his eyes and held back tears of joy. "Please, Colonel...tell me we get the precious RoyAi babies we've all been wishing for!"
Ed looked over as things went silent at that end of the table. He saw Mustang's grin first and knew from that smile that something was up. Then he looked at Hawkeye as she downed her water. "Oh my God!"
"You are!?" Winry gasped and then looked to Roy for confirmation. That grin told her everything. "Oh my God...you are!"
"Well we weren't going to announce it..." Roy said with that unfading smile as Riza slammed her glass down onto the table. "Ever. Sort of a...minor issue with that fraternization law."
Riza tried to come up with something to say as Winry jumped up and down and made gurgling sounds while Al gushed along side her. Alex confessed he wished for them to have kids every time he blew out his birthday candles. Still Roy's words were all she focused on. Minor issue. That man was supposed to be a brilliant leader and tactician and he was going to downplay this as a minor issue? They weren't stealing pens they were having sex in the supply closet on breaks and after hours! Damn that shoulder holster! She should have never admitted that turned her on. "We just found out."
Roy kept glowing. Yes, Riza was pissed especially since he had stopped using his brain immediately after she told him yesterday. She wanted to discuss it like adults, two adults who had screwed up and defied the odds of the effectiveness of the modern birth control pill by screwing like teenagers every damned change they got. It was very possible that their child was conceived on his desk in the office when they were supposed to be finishing budget reports. She wanted to talk and he just sat there smiling and babbling about how they were going to have a baby and it was the best day of his life. So discussion was put off until after the weekend when he could come down off his euphoric high brought on by the promise of fatherhood. Oh well. This wasn't his fault, Riza was the one who let the cat out of the bag. So he kept smiling and nothing could take that from him. He was going to be a father!
Alex cried and hugged Roy. This was like a dream come true! Even he had been wrapped up with the Lt. Colonel Hughes's fantasies of how adorable Roy and Riza would be as parents. A cute little version of them, learning alchemy and playing with Elicia. How the youngster would have Roy wrapped around his or her little finger and Riza would have to be the adult and lay down the rules. The cute little baby Amestrian uniforms they could buy in the gift shop and dress up the future General. He cried even more now and squeezed Roy harder. He wanted to see the baby now! Why did they take so long to grow!? "It will be the most beautiful baby!"
"Like Hawkeye needs another baby to take care of." Ed mumbled.
"Are you excited!?" Winry gushed. "Oh my God! Are you getting married!?"
Riza bit her lip. This was how everything got out of hand so quickly. She closed her eyes. God she wished she could responsibly drink right now. "We were going to discuss this after the weekend."
"You're not excited?" Al's voice betrayed his confusion.
"Al, things are complicated." Riza didn't want to turn and look at Roy, he was just going to have that dumb smile on his face that told her his brain still wasn't functioning.Come on Colonel, I could use you right now to figure this out!
"You're having the baby...aren't you?" Al whispered.
Roy's smile finally left him. It hurt his face to have the smile vanish for the first time in almost two days, but not as much as the panic that it was an option she could choose. He didn't consider that. He just assumed things would play out like this, that they'd never really choose to have kids that it would just happen because they'd never stop working. Mathematically the odds were eventually in favor that they would exceed the success rate of the birth control. I mean, in retrospect, he was surprised it took this long. However, he just assumed she wanted that too. They talked about this...they wanted a family. Sure it wasn't the right time, but when would it ever be the right time. Oh God, what if she didn't want his baby!
Riza turned to him. The man she loved. The idiot she followed. The father of her baby. The adorable round head in the nook of Alex's bulging arm, threatening to be crushed. Was there anything to discuss in that regard? Could she really say no to a life they created? "Yes. We're having a baby."
Roy breathed a sigh of relief. However it was enough of a scare to make his mind start working again and he locked eyes with her as Alex threatened to pop them out of his skull. He choked out, "So, maybe we can keep this quiet? Maybe you can let me go?"
Winry nodded. "Absolutely. We're here to help!"
Then the moment was shattered, along with Jean Havoc's innocence, as a scream echoed through the halls of the Armstrong estate. The pact between these friends and two future parents was silently sealed as Havoc's voice reached their ears. "You mean they're all glass dicks!?"
"I hope you have a girl." Winry said and squeezed Riza's hand.
"Me too." Riza sighed as she heard Breda's laughter from the bathroom.
Alex let go of Roy to rip off his shirt and start to sparkle in all his manly goodness. "Let's celebrate this new life with a toast!"
Roy coughed and walked over to Riza to loop his arm around her. "How do we celebrate anything with his partial nudity?"
"Are you finally ready to talk about this?" She whispered. "I need to talk about this. I'm freaking out a little."
"Sure, let's go for a walk." Roy put the scotch in Al's hand and said, "Give that to Havoc when he gets back."
"Ok." Al said happy to be trusted with alcohol at his young age, even if he couldn't drink it with his current body. It made him feel mature. "Congratulations."
Roy grinned and hugged the huge armored suit, still not quite over the excitement. "Thank you!"
Riza grabbed him by the arm and dragged him away before he got around to toasting and that stupid smile worked it's way back onto his face again. Then she saw it, his glow and realized it was too late. "Are you still with me Colonel?"
"Yes." He nodded and looped his arm around her waist again. "So, I'm thinking Maes for a boy and Elizabeth for a girl."
"Roy." She growled. "Focus on the problem of you being unemployed for getting being pregnant first."
"Right." He nodded. "I wonder if he or she will be an alchemist."
"Right." He said and kissed her head as she looked up at him with her worried eyes. "Sorry, let's figure it all out and then we can celebrate. We're having a baby Riza. You and me. We're going to do this right, not like what we had to go through. No, we're going to be the best damned parents in the world and Hayate is going to be the best big brother. Then we're going to change this world so that our kid doesn't have to go through the hell we did. This is only going to make us stronger, not vulnerable."
She digested that as they walked out onto the patio and looked up at the night sky. The sky was clear but the light pollution of the city dimmed the amount of stars they could see. It was nothing like the country sky she grew up. She leaned against the railing and looked up anyway, looking harder for the constellations that were hiding behind the filter of light. She knew he was looking at her with that dumb glow on his face again. Finally she let herself smile. "I like the names."
"Do you like the idea of being my wife and starting a family?" He asked.
"Do you even have to ask?" She said and he wrapped his hand around hers on the railing. Then they both jumped as firework started from somewhere near the pool. She looked down as the Elrics waved to them from below and continued the celebratory pyrotechnic display. Roy wrapped his arm around her and they watched it from the balcony. "Roy?"
"We're having a baby." She said it and let the words finally sink in.
"Will you marry me?"
She looked up at him and bit her lip. Then tears began to fall and she wanted to tell him this wasn't a discussion that convinced her that everything was going to be OK. However she felt confident and ready for what was going to come as she said, "Yes."
Chapter 15: Visions
The first time, she thought it was a glimpse of her past.
A little girl crying by a tombstone, just the shadow of a small figure with pigtails and a dress that stood apart from the adults.
She woke up in a sweat, her heart racing as a memory she didn't know she had surfaced in her dreams. Riza sat up in bed and she felt him stir beside her, they were well accustomed to each others sleep issues and nightmares, but this one was different. This one was long before the war or even Roy, this vision was of her childhood: a little girl who lost her mother, standing in a graveyard next to a tombstone she couldn't read.
He pulled her back down into his arms and ran his fingers through her short hair and she put her head on his bare chest. She listened to his heart beat and didn't want to say anything. Roy had lost his parents as a child and she didn't want to dredge up memories of the past for him. He didn't need to worry about her either, he had enough on his mind.
The second time, she thought it was a vision of the future.
A little girl calling out for her Daddy as she stood with her mother, silhouettes beside a tombstone.
She woke up crying and felt beside her to make sure he was still there. The fear of losing him made her sick and the feeling the dreams created lingered well after she woke up. He was tired, exhausted from the endless days of work and he didn't need something else to worry about. Not when their relationship was already putting them at risk, not when the rumors were already flying about the Colonel and his aide. However he woke up when he felt her tears on his chest, and she couldn't answer his concerned questions because he didn't need something else to worry about. She clung to him and cried, because the one thing worse than losing him was to subject a child to that experience of losing a parent.
It was years away, in fact it may never happen for them. She didn't want to burden him, because it was a dream of his and she didn't want to tarnish it.
When it happened, she knew it was truly a vision of the future and she cried because she never told him.
They stood there together as a little girl cried and screamed for her Daddy as they lowered Maes Hughes into the ground. The silhouettes of the little girl with pigtails and her mother with cropped hair holding her hand now had definition, and it was painfully apparent that it wasn't her and her own daughter. The funeral went just as it did before, just as it had in her dreams.
Only this wasn't about them. It was their future, but they were still just spectators. So as she watched the tears roll down the cheeks of the man she loved she couldn't help but wonder if it was a warning. That if she had told him...maybe everyone could have been spared this experience and it could have just remained a nightmare.
She didn't burden him that day with her thoughts and fears, because it wasn't about them and he didn't need someone intruding on his grief. She also feared his reaction to her telling him it might have been prevented had she just listened. She was terrified of losing him because she refused to tell him.
So when it was time for her to fall to her knees and cry because she thought he was gone, she thought of all the things she never told him. As Lust mocked her she sat there paralyzed and thought about her life. How she had lived in fear of the past and future, haunted by nightmares and never embracing a present. How she had just lost the only person she had in this world and how she feared burdening him with more than she already had. That she so easily gave him the secrets to make him believe he was a monster, but she never gave him the secrets that made them human.
There would be no tombstone that day, even if tears were shed. Roy emerged from the ashes, clawed his way back from the brink of death and defeat to stay with her. After that day, she knew it wasn't a burden they carried, they carried each other. After that horrible day, she never held back her fears and emotions. She told him about the dreams and he put her mind at ease with a gentle smile and kiss, followed by a plea to never hide from him again. He never wanted her to give up, to stop living because of defeat or the past...he wanted her to start living for a future: a future with him.
Chapter 16: April Fools
April Fools Day in Roy Mustang's office was usually when Riza Hawkeye utilized her disaster management courses. There were silly pranks, mean pranks, several fires, many tears and somehow Fuery always managed to get his stapler superglued to his hand.
She hated April Fools Day with a passion.
However this year she and Mustang were in meetings for most of the day and missed out on the childish antics. In fact it wasn't until two days later when Roy told her his "genius" plan.
"It's basic tactics, you never let the enemy choose the battlefield and this is no exception."
She looked at her calendar and saw the date, April 3rd. "This is setting a dangerous precedent. Now any day is fair game for this insanity."
Roy gave her his most innocent and manipulative smile. "Riza, they'll never see it coming. They were prepared for me to do something yesterday to make up for not being in the office on April Fools Day, but they won't expect anything today. I have them right where I want them."
She frowned and sat down. He wasn't going to get any work done until she agreed to go along with this. "Fine. What are you planning?"
Kain Fuery was still picking bits of dried glue off his hand when his commander and Lieutenant arrived at the office. In fact it occupied him for most of of day and by lunch time he was wondering if maybe the Colonel would be kind enough to use alchemy to dissolve the remaining residue from his hands. He looked over at the man who was studying some pictures of homunculus that Edward had drawn and writing art critiques down on post it notes for when the Fullmetal Alchemist came in later that day. As the guys started to prepare to go to lunch he drummed up the nerve to go over and ask for that little favor, but suddenly the Colonel whipped around and looked over at Hawkeye.
"Lieutenant!" Roy said and focused on Riza who was picking up her purse in preparation of going out to lunch.
"Yes, sir?" Riza walked around her desk and stood in the middle of the office and waited for him.
Roy took off his dog tags and clutched them in his hand, then walked over to to her and held up his hand. "Lieutenant Riza Hawkeye, I need to ask you something that means a great deal to me...and hopefully you."
The team paused and looked over at the two of them in the middle of the office and waited.
"If this is about following you sir, I already said I'd follow you into Hell." Riza replied.
"I'd hope that marriage isn't Hell." He said and smile at her.
"Clearly you don't comprehend how much it irritates me that you can't find the hamper." She responded and watched his lip twitch as he tried not to smile.
"Riza," Roy said and opened his hand to reveal his dog tags. "I...know I've been planning this for a long time but I didn't realize that today would be the day...so all I can offer you are my dog tags. Would you take my name and wear it next to your heart? Will you honor me by becoming Mrs. Mustang?"
Riza took his tags and cocked an eyebrow as she heard Breda squeak and Havoc gasp. She looked at the tags and back to him, then said. "I'll think about it."
Roy bit his lip. She was good. He heard Fuery hit the ground as he passed out.
"Until then, don't expect me to nestle your name between my breasts." She said and placed his tags back into his hand and smirked. "You need that identification in case you get lost so the authorities know who to call."
Roy clutched his tags in his hand as she left the room with her dog trailing behind her. He sighed and picked up his coat, stepped over Fuery's unconscious body and made his way past his team to follow her.
Havoc was the first to speak up. "You asshole, you think this is a April Fool's Joke? This better not be, you know how hard we ship this."
Breda narrowed his eyes at his boss. That's right, Mustang didn't pull a prank on them yet! "Damn you, this is not something you can tease us about."
Roy signed dramatically and looked them both in the eye before grunting and saying. "Fine. You're right, it's a joke."
"Asshole." Breda grumbled.
"You cruel bastard." Havoc hissed.
Falman started to cry.
Roy slung his coat over his shoulder and tossed the tags in his hand. "Of course it's an April Fool's joke, Riza and I are already married and have been for two years."
Falman stopped sobbing and watched their Colonel put his dog tags on and pull out another necklace with a gold wedding band on it.
"Of course you dicks don't remember because you all got wasted at my bachelor party and missed the damned wedding. You got so drunk celebrating when Riza and I announced we were eloping, that not a damned one of you remembered why you were waking up on the floor of my Mom's bar the next day."
"What." Breda said and stared at the ring. WHAT!?
"But Hughes just called yesterday and told you to 'Get a wife' and you hung up on him." Havoc said. "I call bullshit."
"I call bullshit." Roy growled. "Because my friends, especially my best friend, didn't show up to my wedding. Instead he kind of had a feeling that something might have happened so he keeps joking about it to see if I'll break and tell him. I do get pissed, because my best man was busy hugging a toilet on the day I said 'I Do' to the woman I love. Best part is nobody remembers it. Well I do, I remember trying to share the best day of my life with you people and you missing out because of your hangovers. So, if you'll excuse me I'm going to go have lunch with my beautiful and loving wife, our little four legged child and try to apologize for leaving my socks on the floor instead of the hamper again."
They watched him leave and glanced at each other. Breda was the first one to speak up. "Do you guys remember...that?"
Havoc rubbed his head. "I remember that hangover."
"I remember hitting on Roy's Mom before I knew she was his Mom." Falman said thoughtfully. "I remember the second stall in the men's bathroom and the poem written on the partition."
"I remember puking in the urinal." Breda said. "And Hughes taking his shirt off and singing Unchained Melody and screaming 'I want to be the Goose to your Maverick' at Mustang.'"
Havoc had a faint memory of that. "And Mustang telling him to aspire to be a better character than the guy who dies in the movies. Holy shit...I thought that was just karaoke night?"
"Madam Christmas had the softest hands." Falman recalled.
Breda shot him a look and then went back to concentrating on those memories. "I remember Mustang being sober. When has that ever happened? I mean...we always drink him under the table, but he was clearly sober."
"He had the voice of an angel. A warm baritone that just touched my soul in a way that felt oddly sexually stimulating but also religious." Falman said. "I wish he sang more."
Havoc's head tilted to the side and his cigarette almost fell out. Falman's facts could be mentally damaging at times. "Did we really miss his wedding or is this the best prank he's ever pulled on us?"
Breda shrugged, "We can't call records and look for a marriage certificate because it would send up red flags and if they really are married get them in serious trouble. On the other hand...none of the witnesses we have available to us are any good."
"What about Roy's Mom?" Havoc asked. "Falman apparently got closer than he should have?"
"You think the Colonel wouldn't bring her, and all her girls, in on this?" Breda asked.
Havoc sat down. "What the hell happened that night?"
"I remember the smell of that urinal." Breda said and shuddered. "Why I couldn't use a trash can...I don't remember that."
"Wow." Havoc leaned back in his seat. "He's outdone himself with this one."
"He said 'take my name'." Breda "He didn't propose and ask her to marry him, he said become Mrs. Mustang and change her name."
"Wow." Havoc looked over at Fuery and wondered how long he'd be unconscious. So was this a joke or not? Were they ever going to find out?
Chapter 17: Dog Tags
AN: Because it was requested on Tumblr to write a little something about a headcanon of mine and also include more petting of the Flame Alchemist in fics. :)
Riza had been slightly worried when she was shopping for her new puppy that Roy would be jealous of the new dog. She didn't know why, but she just kept imagining him misbehaving for attention just to ensure that her 'old dog' was the one she still needed to focus on. They had been together a long time, however she did feel bad that she didn't discuss the new pet with him as it impacted his life as well. It's not like they were married, she didn't technically have to run it by him first, but a big change like this did affect them both. So, as she finished writing down her contact information for Hayate's new tags, she made sure to put '2' in the quantity space before handing it back to the clerk and added one more name to the order.
Roy loved gifts, be it a paper airplane she launched at his sleeping head or a new shirt, he lit up like a child anytime she gave him something. So today, he would get a biscuit shaped pet identification tag with his name on it and a "If found please call Riza at 555-4242" inscribed on the back. He would be excited, even if it was the exact same thing she was giving her new dog. She listened to the machine etch the information into the little dog bone shaped tags and waited patiently, hoping her impulsive decision wouldn't put any more stress in their stressful relationship. Soon the tags were done and she was leaving the store, wondering if she was going to go mad trying to balance a puppy and a high maintenance boyfriend the world couldn't know she had.
She walked across the street to go back to headquarters with her bag from the pet store cradled in her arm and ran through her mental list of things for her new pet. She hoped Hayate was being good, she had left him in Roy's care while she went to the store on lunch since the little guy didn't have a food bowl, collar, chow or leash. Fuery had used Breda's cereal bowl to give the puppy milk and when the distraught Lieutenant found out he threw it out the window screaming about werewolves and parasites. Riza sighed, there was little hope for getting anything done today. Roy had a puppy he was going to treat like their first born, Fuery was unable to cut the umbilical cord from his rescue, Breda was still climbing on the furniture, Falman was reiterating all information about dogs he had ever read and Havoc just grinned at her knowing that Roy getting jealous was inevitable. Yes, today was going to be a lost cause.
She took a deep breath as she passed the main gate and saw Roy bending over trying to feed her new dog. Havoc was smoking and watching his commander make an ass out of himself on the lush green grass of headquarters's courtyard. Riza sighed again. Roy was still trying to bribe the puppy into liking him more, but she doubted the pup was too interested in getting close to the man who swung him around like a rag doll while singing about how much he loved dogs. He didn't realize yet what the puppy meant to their after hours time together, Hayate was going to have to get some attention too and they had to be careful about Roy showing up with dog hair all over his uniform in the morning. She was going to have to set boundaries for both her boys. Rule #1 was going to be stop feeding the dog steak.
"Colonel, please don't spoil my dog." Riza said as she walked up behind the man on bent knee, dangling a piece of meat in front of the dog; meat he probably stole from the cafeteria. Steak that was meant to feed the Fuhrer and not soldiers or a mutt.
"He needs good food." Roy said simply and frowned when the puppy trotted over to his new master and sat down by her side. "Fuery found him in the streets! He's malnourished and needs more than a bowl of milk..."
"I bought him dog food." She said and knelt down in the grass, setting the bag down beside her. Hayate wagged his tail and focused on her, ignoring Roy and the raw meat he once again put in front of his nose. "Sir, please."
"Why won't he take this from me?" Roy pouted.
"He's probably still got an upset stomach from when you held him in the air and shook him earlier." She replied and pulled the new dog collar out of the bag and affixed the tag to it.
Roy sat down in the grass and threw the steak over his shoulder. He watched the dog practically smile as Riza put the collar around his neck and make sure it fit properly. Then she scooped the pup up and held him against her chest and scratched his little fuzzy ears. The mutt didn't even notice when a squirrel ran by with the steak in it's mouth. "He doesn't look upset."
"Don't get jealous." She said and reached into the bag and pulled out the tag made for him. She handed him the tag and smiled. "I got you a tag too, in case you get lost. I can't have my old military dog feeling left out."
"Dog tags, huh?" Roy took the tag and heard Havoc chuckling by the tree. He wasn't sure if it was about the tag or the damned squirrel. He smiled as he looked at the little aluminum tag in his had with 'Roy' stamped on one side and Riza's contact number on the other side. "Who are you calling old?"
She smiled and stood up while grabbing the shopping bag and holding the puppy. "Come along Colonel, time to get back to work."
He held up his new dog tag and said, "I answer to Roy."
"Lunch is over, Colonel." She said and looked down at him. "You've wasted enough time today, you better get your work done or you're not going to go home."
Roy watched her walk away and then looked down at the tag and smiled. He loved gifts.
Jean Havoc took in the sights as he finished his cigarette. In addition to the squirrel trying to bury a slab of raw meat next to the park bench, Roy Mustang was currently glowing like a child as he looked at his new dog id. Havoc exhaled and watched the man who was a renowned war hero, feared alchemist and the man looking to overthrow the current regime and take control of the nation, smile stupidly at a cheap piece of metal in his hand. Then the Colonel pulled off his real dog tags and added the biscuit one to his necklace so he could wear it. Havoc shook his head and crushed the lit butt on his sole. These two were hopeless, and now they had a furry kid.
"Why can't he sleep on the bed?"
Riza rolled her eyes as she brushed her hair before going to bed. When she had explained that she thought it was a bad idea to go to Roy's apartment tonight because of the new dog, Roy volunteered to come over to her place and spend the night. It wasn't so much as a volunteer effort, much more a statement that he was going to be there no matter what she said. "No."
"Riza, he doesn't have a bed."
She had put up with Roy playing with Hayate on the living room rug and acting like a five year old for the night. She dealt with him trying to give Hayate dinner scraps and bones he could potentially choke on, then barely caught him before he walked out of her apartment with the puppy to go for a walk. Idiot, you're not supposed to be seen at my place! Think Colonel Mustang, you idiot! He tried to change the puppy's name to Sparky. Now there was this: him trying to ruin the dog. "He can sleep on the rug."
"It's not soft." Roy whined. "Can he have a pillow...or a blanket?"
She slammed her brush down on the sink. Hayate hadn't whined once since she agreed to take him this afternoon, however Roy was doing nothing but whining. "Roy, he's my dog."
"Well sure he's staying at your place but..."
"No, Roy." She walked out of the bathroom and pointed authoritatively at the man who currently was sitting on her bed with a puppy in his lap. "Bad Roy. Put that dog down and go to bed."
He sighed and slipped off the bed, carrying the pup over to the small rug in the corner that she had put down for him. The little bundle of adorable fluff just stretched and laid down, curling up into a ball just as his new owner told him to. Roy looked over his shoulder and noticed Riza was still watching him and he hung his head and grudgingly left Hayate to sleep and proceeded to unclothe and get into bed. "I just...like dogs. I always wanted one."
"He's going to be my dog and I expect him to be a good dog. Stop trying to ruin him." Riza said and turned out the bathroom light. Then she noticed the tags around his neck as he looked up at her with a pout. "Are you wearing that dog tag?"
He smiled and lifted it up to show her. "Well yeah, you gave it to me."
She shook her head and crawled into bed next to him. His eyebrows lifted with anticipation of a scratch or pet for being a good boy and appreciating her gift, no matter how stupid it was. She ran her hand through his silky black hair and he leaned into her touch with a smile. "It was a joke."
"I'll be buried with it." He said and wrapped his arms around her and nestled his head against her chest. "I keep everything you give me. I still have that four leaf clover you gave me the first week I was at your house. It's pressed and inside my alchemy book."
She leaned back against the headboard as he cuddled against her, reminiscent of how she held Hayate earlier this afternoon. Surely not a coincidence. She stroked his hair and sighed. "That wasn't a gift. It was a warning."
"You gave me a lucky four leaf clover and said 'Good luck lasting the week.' and left me to unpack my things. You were such a sassy girl." He smiled as her fingers ran through his hair and he squeezed her affectionately. "I knew I liked you."
"Liar." She said and felt his head shake under head hand as she continued to run his hair through her fingers.
"I've always known Riza. From day one. Something about you, something in your eyes just told me that you were special. Then you challenged me to last the week and to be honest...it took looking at that clover every night to get me through it. Your father genuinely wanted to push me to quit."
"You never told me that." She said and pushed his hair away from his ear so she could trace it with her finger. God, she was just an ugly little kid in rags and she had been happy that way until he showed up. Then that moment she saw that cute city boy on the front porch she wished that she was something worth looking at. She dismissed the emotion instantly, it was silly to think that a boy would be interested in her. However in that fleeting moment she looked at him and wished that she could have that normal life like the other girls. It was the first flush of teenage attraction she had felt as all the boys in her hometown had already annoyed or teased her. She considered that maybe...instead of tending to her father, working from dawn til dusk , that she wanted a moment to be a typical teenage girl.
The moment passed and she wrote it off as a side effect of reading too many books. She showed him to his room and gave him that clover she found that morning, just to keep him from trying to get too comfortable. Her life was a long way from a fairy tale and in those days, she really couldn't see a future beyond that decrepit old house. Roy, however, changed that. He was naive, honest and sweet. He spoke of the city and his drastically different life, but never looked down on her or the way they lived. He struggled with it, but he chose to learn from it instead. Now they were here, together with the puppy he always wanted but could never have due to where he grew up. She smiled as she played with his hair. Who wanted a fairy tale when you could write your own story?
Roy closed his eyes and concentrated on her touch. "It wasn't anything romantic, it was more of a 'I'll show her I'm not weak' kind of thing...but I needed something. I was homesick and just overwhelmed. Your father made sure I understood I didn't know anything, so I started questioning myself. However that little clover was in the pages and I just kept thinking about how I couldn't let my Aunt Chris down. How I was lucky I had someone like her to raise me and she pulled strings with some old General she used to know to get me an apprenticeship. Not just any apprenticeship, with the Flame Alchemist. Well, I wasn't going to let her down. You however showed me I was weak every chance I got, but I liked it. Still do."
She tugged at his hair indicating that she wanted him to sit up she she could kiss him. He reluctantly released his grip and sat up, his warm smile greeting her as soon as he lifted his head. She kissed him with more passion than he was expecting, as she felt him stiffen before melting into the act of affection and returning her kiss. She pulled away and placed her forehead on his, looking into those glistening eyes in front of her. "You're not weak, you never were."
"Then why do you have to put a tag on me to make sure I'm returned if I get lost?" He asked with an amused smirk.
"I never want to lose you." She said it without thinking. It sounded so sappy when it rolled off her tongue and she didn't mean to change the tone of the conversation, but Roy's face lit up and made her realize it was something he needed to hear. He needed the petting and reaffirming just as much as he needed her to reprimand him to show she was always watching him. To this day it amazed her that he was the insecure one in the relationship. He didn't feel good enough for her and worried that she'd realize someday that she deserved a real boyfriend. One that would take her to dinner and walk the dog, one that would get down on bent knee to ask her to be his wife without worrying it would sideline his career and goals. She had to remind him that she didn't care what the world saw, only what they saw when they exchanged glances and unspoken words. That to be by his side daily was more important than a piece of paper or a traditional family and she loved him and whatever life they lived. She wasn't looking for a knight in shining armor to come sweep her off her feet, she wanted to sweep his feet out from under him when he tried to get himself killed and fight beside him.
He grinned and kissed her again before falling backwards onto the bed and waiting for her to come lay down on him. She smiled and turned out the light and crawled back over, he was expecting her to rest her head on his shoulder so she could play with the dog tags on his chest. He was surprised when she crawled over him and straddled him. "Really? A puppy, gift, profession of love and sex too?"
She grinned and bent over to kiss him, dragging her teeth over his lip as she pulled away. "You're adorable when you're singing about dogs or playing like one. Just don't let that go to your head."
"Which one?" He asked and she giggled and ended the discussion with her lips on his. He let his hands wander over her nightgown and down to her thighs. She broke off the kiss and feathered light kisses up his cheek to his ear.
"This is why the dog can't sleep on the bed." She whispered and sucked his ear lube.
"Good call." He said as he exhaled sharply thanks to her roaming hand slipping into his pajama pants. "That's why you're the decision maker in the household."
She chuckled and trailed kisses down his neck to his collarbone. Yes, this was a pretty good life with him even if the new puppy just realized he needed to go outside and pee.
Chapter 18: Journal
Riza stumbled into his dark apartment and closed the door behind her, not bothering to lock it. She walked into the living room and the light from the streetlamps and moon sent a small band of light past the desk and onto the couch. She knew her way around, she didn't need the ceiling light. She also didn't want to chase away the delusion that he was here and just hidden by darkness.
The rain drops hit the window and she could hear his voice in her mind choking out the words, "No, it's raining." and finally she couldn't hold back tears any more. She hit the couch and the tears were streaking down her face already, tears she somehow managed to hold back during the funeral. His funeral. Just hours earlier she watched the team carry his coffin covered in the flag of Amestris to the grave site. She stood next to the Elrics cold and unmoving, just like the stone statues and gravestones that surrounded them.
She held out until the funeral, until they lowered him into that grave and she saw his name etched into that granite, to let the acceptance of his loss creep into her heart. She refused to accept it as his coffin began sinking below ground into that hole, however as it disappeared so did the denial. The coffin was lowered and it slowly revealed his vital statistics on the marker that would designate where his body now resided. She trembled as the cold grip of reality took a hold of her heart and crushed it. He was gone and with him, everything.
Ed, however, refused to accept it. He stood beside her in his dress uniform, something she was surprised he even had. He looked older, be it the formal attire or the chiseled lines of age forming on his teenage face, however there was no mistaking who it was when he opened his mouth.
"He's not dead."
After the incident, that explosion on the train, she refused to accept that the Colonel hadn't made it out. Even if all evidence pointed to no survivors, she wasn't going to give up on him. They started to find pieces of bodies, then scraps of a uniform...then his dog tags. Then one of his gloves turned up further down the line, bloodied and torn. Still she refused to accept it. Ed was frantic, it had been his insistence that the 'Bastard Colonel get his ass out of that chair and into the field'. Train hijackings were becoming too frequent and people were suffering. "Alchemist be thou for the people, right Colonel? Or have you sold out to the military and only use your skills to kill?"
What had gotten the young alchemist so fired up, she never found out. Ed was passionate about helping people and she usually saw his passion in the amount of Cenz he spent, or incurred in damages, on missions. Roy complained, but always shuffled money around to allow the Fullmetal Alchemist to be the hero the people needed. If Ed knew how much his commander did to support him...
Riza slammed her eyes shut and tried to force the memory from her head. The memory of his proud smile after Ed would turn his back fuming about some childish remark Roy would make. How she loved seeing him be immature but also paternal, how she loved seeing him have a chance to be himself without worrying about who might be watching. She never told him, she never told him because it would mean someone caught him without his defensive walls up and he would stop doing it. No, she'd never tell him.
She'd never tell him a lot of things now.
She finally stood up and went to the desk and turned on the light. She came to his apartment tonight to find something of his to seek comfort in. To sleep in a shirt that smelled of him before the smell faded. To enjoy the illusion that this was still his apartment before the team came to pack things up and put it all in storage tomorrow. She needed the night with him, just one more night before the apartment and her life was empty. So now she sat at his desk and looked at the picture of his graduation. Maes smiling, Roy serious as ever. She hoped Maes was there for him, in whatever afterlife there really was. She hoped, he had someone.
She reached for the half empty bottle of whiskey and looked at it. This was who kept him company when he was alone, when she knew damned well that she did a better job of calming his demons and worry. However, their moments were fleeting and always rushed. Always just enough to get by because something else took precedent. They'd have a future eventually. When wrongs were righted, they'd have a future...
She pushed the bottle away as the tears started again and drops of water from her eyes hit the blotter. Rain pounded against the window and she didn't stop crying for a good ten minutes, until there wasn't a tear left to be shed. Then she sniffled and looked at a leather bound journal that sat between his copy of Art of War and several alchemy texts that used to belong to her father. It was a worn book, edged bent and leather shiny from the oil of hands. So she took it out and set it on the desk. She needed to see his handwriting, needed to see his beautiful penmanship and thoughts in front of her eyes instead of a blurry sorrow.
She wasn't expecting it to actually be a journal. It wasn't his alchemy notes, it was letters that he wrote never intending to send. She flipped through it and then looked at the inscription on the first page. It was from his Mom. Madam Christmas gave this to him when she packed her boy up and sent him out for his apprenticeship. His first time ever away from home. When he was delivered to her doorstep and changed her life.
She flipped though the first few entries, just curious to see if he used it. Roy always was a bit stubborn and smart-assed, so the first five pages were doodles and stupid commentary about people in her hometown. A silly sketch of her father as a bridge troll. Some transmutation circles and whining about the quality of coffee. Then he finally committed to using it for what it was intended: a personal journal for committing his thoughts to paper to get them out of his head. The first real entry...was about her.
She swallowed hard.
He wrote about her in his journal. He wrote about how beautiful and smart and witty she was, all these little events that impressed him. How upset he was about her situation and how Hawkeye was a terrible father. How he wished for her to go on to a happy life, one that would make up for all the hardships she had endured. How he didn't want to leave because he finally had someone he connected with, a friend. Then it got more intense as time progressed.
She finally lost herself in his story of their youth. How he saw things and admired her even though she never had any idea he felt that way. Sure they had eventually developed into a fleeting something, but they both knew that his time with them would be over soon and they didn't want the pain that would come from a brief intense young romance. Still, he never really forgot or got over her.
He wrote in his journal during boot camp, he wrote it as letters to her . Apparently the other cadets wrote to their girl back home and he didn't have one. She he wrote to her and she saw how insecure and lonely he was, how he was afraid that he made a terrible mistake and would be a failure. How he didn't really know what he wanted to do with his life and maybe the military wasn't it. He told her this, in this book. Why couldn't he write it down and mail it to her? She was feeling the same things and miserable. She would have loved to know he was out there.
She knew why. It would have been too easy. They both needed to figure things out and determine who they were going to be. They were young, molded into young adults by their family and society. They were both at the point were the freedom of adulthood was going to determine who they really became. What life they were going to live when they were away from the comforts and constraints of home and family. So..no...he couldn't share this because he needed to figure it out on his own. Just like she did.
Entries seemed to fade a little after he met Maes. Clearly he had a friend to talk with and didn't need the journal. Confidence was growing, he was not failing and was excelling in his studies. However one lurking question kept gracing the pages of the journal during these years. "Why wasn't I good enough?". It was directed at Berthold Hawkeye, because he refused to pass down his secrets to his apprentice.
Her father was good at that, making you doubt yourself. Roy was the best student he had ever had. He was brilliant, open minded and determined. Any other alchemist would have killed to have him study under them, but her father made Roy feel inadequate and often Roy stumbled over his own studies to try and prove himself worthy. It made her mad, it was one thing if she wasn't good enough, but Roy wasn't her. He was better. He deserved to leave that house with something because he could make something of himself with it. However, that part came next in his journal. His graduation, some comments about classmates going to post assignments and then his determination to get certified as a State Alchemist.
She wished she was there for this part of his life, to see the idealist and non jaded Roy Mustang. To see his innocent smile again everyday, not just when he slipped up and forgot that he was supposed to bury that part of him. He started thinking about her again, a lot during this time. He was planning to go back and ask his master to teach him flame alchemy, but he was more nervous about seeing her.
She bit her lip. She couldn't imagine him worrying about her more than dealing with her father. He was working himself up to ask her to dinner, asking for a proper date and hoping that he wasn't too late. His entries were all about her and not about her father. He fully expected to be rejected by Berthold Hawkeye, but he feared being rejected by Riza Hawkeye. The pages were empty for a while, she didn't need to know why. Her father died and all he could do was awkwardly give her contact information instead of ask her to accompany him to dinner. She closed her eyes as she remembered that funeral.
She opened her eyes quickly as tears started to regenerate. The memory of the stone in the graveyard made her think about the one she had stared at this afternoon. She flipped until she found words again and saw a smear of something on a page and started reading. It was grease, from a gun. The entry was from Ishval when he started writing her letters again. He was sacred of dying, scared of what he was capable of and scared that she would hate him. Scared that he ruined his life and that he never had a life worthy of ruining. He kept talking about the things he had done, vague enough to not be redacted by the war dept. if it was sent home in his belongs after his demise, but still foreboding enough to make her heart ache even if she hadn't been there.
Then the day he discovered she was there. How Maes had talked about the lady sniper, how he prayed that she wasn't the one. Prayed. Roy prayed. A man who didn't believe in God, wrote an entire entry in his journal to Him asking to spare her. That if there was anything just in the world that He created, then this one girl who had already had too much taken from her be left alone. Just that one thing was all he was asking for, that she not suffer anymore.
The next page was clearly after they had met again because it was hostile and vicious enough to earn him a ticket to Hell's deepest depths. If his actions weren't enough, the words on the paper were surely a guarantee that he's have a reserved seat in Hell. She found comfort in his furious words, because there was beauty in his cursive anger. The emotions, came through in the quick scrawl and deeply carved words, she could almost see his clenched jaw as he wrote it. It was very vivid. It was her Roy.
She finally slammed the journal shut and started to cry again. How the hell had they never told each other this? How did he curse God for the injustice he served to her, yet never told her how he felt? How did she do the same, yet never tell him a word? How did they just live in the brief moments when they could be together and revel in each others presence yet never speak words that should have been said. Why...didn't she tell him that this struggle didn't have to be faced alone?
Why was she going to have to face it alone?
She put her head down on his desk and cried again as lightning lit up the room and thunder downed out her sobs. She startled when she felt someone invade her solitude, the storm did it's very best to mask the intruder's entry. Her instinct begged her to take her firearm out of it's holster and stand to confront the individual, but her heart told her to take the opportunity to be put out of her misery. Then the words cut through the darkness, the noise of nature could do nothing to drown out his voice.
"I though I told you to never give up living."
She felt her body freeze as his voice reached her ears. The tears streamed down her cheeks, the discharge rolled out of her nose and her heart pounded but she didn't take a breath.
"I guess I also broke my promise to never make you cry again."
She turned and the lightning struck, illuminating the room and the dark figure standing in the middle of the hall dropping rainwater off his coat. The light went out as the electricity in the building and neighborhood powered down, thanks to the storm. The room was dark and she waited for another word to prove that he was there. She heard the drips hitting the floor despite the rain hammering against the glass of the window beside her. Figment of her imagination or ghost, she did not care. Then there was a snap and a streak of flame went around the room to light every candle he had, as well as the fireplace.
"Sorry I was late for my own funeral." He stepped closer to her, her eyes overflowing with tears, her face red and her lip quivering. He never wanted to see her like this and it pained him to know he cause it. "Riza, I'm fine. Some scrapes, broken arm and a concussion but nothing the local veterinarian couldn't fix. I'm a long way from dead."
"We buried you this afternoon." She choked out.
"I saw the headlines." Roy took another cautious step towards her. "It wasn't easy getting a ride from cattle country without my ID or dog tags...I kept tracking those hijackers and ended up in some remote village. The rail lines were damaged during that explosion so the trains weren't running. No military outpost. I...wasn't expecting to be declared dead so quickly though. It's sort of a surprise."
"Surprise." She repeated and stood up. She was afraid to touch him, afraid to find out he wasn't real. He reached out for her hand and as soon as she touched the course ignition cloth of his glove she started crying again. She reached out for him, put her hands on his cheeks and looked at his face in the candlelit apartment. He was scratched up, his hair soaking wet and there was scruff from not shaving for a week but his loving smile was unmistakable. She pulled him down to her kiss and he graciously accepted the test.
"It tried to get back." He whispered as she wrapped her arms around him and cried into his shoulder. He took a deep breath of her hair and ran his hand over her dress uniform. The black sash across her body made her statements sink in. She buried him today. She went to his funeral. "God Riza, I had no idea they would declare me dead."
"Dog tags." She managed to say between hiccups and sobs. "Gloves, hair, uniform."
"It was a fight." Roy recalled. "They had machetes, cut my hair when they swung at my damned head...had to fight out of my damned trench coat when it got caught on the seat. One guy tried to strange me, guess that's were I lost my tags. Found the bomb, I couldn't do anything with the wires with my gloves on so I took one off. It was already too late to do something with the bomb so I tried to manipulate the explosion and stop it from blowing forward into the other passenger cars. I also had to detach the car and working that coupling loose while the train was moving...not easy."
"You idiot. Why did you go alone?" She squeezed him so hard. Nobody was taking him from her, there was no way anyone would get him out of her grip.
"I'm an idiot." He said and kissed her wet cheek. "I managed to contain the explosion but blew up the back of the car. We went off the tracks and I blacked out. When I woke up I managed to get out of the wreckage and the hijackers were trying to get away with the guns from the freight cars so...I blew them up with my glove that I still had. Miscalculated. My head really hurt, arm was broken...ugh...I forgot the ammo was in there too. Hence the crater where the tracks used to be. Got in one of the trucks to follow the escaping two men back to their headquarters...I honestly had no idea where we ended up. I got them to surrender by just looking like I walked out of hell because the Devil didn't like my company."
"I thought I lost you." She squeezed him harder, not sure how she managed that feat. She never wanted to let go. "I never told you anything, I never..."
"Needed to." He said and tugged her over to the bedroom. "So let's go to bed. I'm tired, I just got back from the dead and I want nothing more than to spend my night holding you."
"You're not dead." She said in a whisper as he lead her to the bedroom. "You have to tell someone."
He laughed. "I'll show up for work early tomorrow and see who notices. For now, I want to get out of these wet clothes I've been wearing for a week and find some drugs that are meant for human consumption and not bovine anti-inflammatory."
"The team will be here in the morning to help me clean out your apartment." She informed him and he rasied his eyebrows.
"Even better. We can sleep in and they can come to us." He kept pulling her to the bedroom, wanting nothing more than to crawl into bed with her.
"I can't sleep. I just buried you, I'm not shutting my eyes in case you leave while I'm not awake." Riza helped him out of the coat he was wearing, something two sizes too big that reeked of cattle.
"I'll still be here." He said and kissed her again. "Can't promise I'll be moving very much, but I don't intend to go anywhere."
"Then you need to listen to me talk." She said and brushed his hair from his eyes, noting the small chunk missing. "I read your journal, I need to tell you everything I've never said. Everything I thought would be in our way, everything you needed to hear but I wasn't able to tell you."
"Sounds like heaven."
Chapter 19: The One Ring
The One Ring
"How in the hell is that man a sex symbol?" Jean Havoc asked as he leaned against the building and watched Mustang try to bargain with Hawkeye's dog using the sandwich he confiscated from Breda.
"I'd have sex with him to get my sandwich back." Breda pouted and sighed. "Roast beef, the good stuff not that plastic like processed beef from the fast food place. This came from the deli."
"You're not even going to ask why he took your sandwich?" Jean queried and heard Breda's stomach growl.
"To feed it to the dog. Buy the dog's affection. What do I care? I am without my sandwich." Breda replied. Dammit. He was looking forward to that all morning.
"He was going to propose to Hawkeye." Havoc watched Breda's eyes light up. "Tied the engagement ring onto the dog's collar. He wrote "Will you marry me?" in combustible gel on the windows and was going to send the dog over with the ring after he snapped his fingers and lit the windows on fire. Maybe expected her to say something before the curtains, office and building caught on fire, but we didn't get that far."
Breda looked up at the office window and he could almost see something smeared on them making them catch the sun's rays oddly. He glanced over at Mustang who was on one knee offering the dog a sandwich instead of on bent knee offering Hawkeye the future they all wanted them to have. "What the hell happened?"
"Dog ate the ring." Havoc chuckled. "Now he thinks he can 'equivalent exchange' a sandwich for the engagement ring."
Breda watched as the dog made a weird face and whined a little before coughing. Then the sandwich went flying and Mustang was scooping up the dog in his arms and running for the parking lot. "Now what is happening?"
"That ring does not agree with the dog's digestive system." Havoc snorted. "He's afraid he might have killed her dog."
"It's Ok, buddy, I'll save you."
Black Hayate whined in the back seat of Roy Mustang's car and finally couldn't avoid throwing up any longer. His little puppy paws had been digging into the seat as Roy's insane driving turned his already upset stomach, upside down. If he could speak human he would answer his Master's question of, 'Can Mustang's driving get any worse?' with a resounding Yes. Yes, if you added the excitement of an emergency to the already horrible experience, his driving skills would get much much worse. He would also follow that up with a 'Please never let him dog-sit me again', but alas, he could never vocalize his internal monologue and would probably be at the mercy of this lunatic again.
"We're almost there!" Roy's hands clutched the steering wheel in panic as Hayate puked again. So he did what any person already driving on the wrong side of the road would do, he pressed the accelerator to the floor.
Hayate squeezed his eyes shut as he was pinned to the back seat of the behicle. He howled, hoping his Master would come save him.
"Oh God, hang in there. We're almost to the vet!"
Hayate covered his eyes with his paws and prayed he'd live to see that nice vet once more in his clearly short life. Then Roy took a sharp left and sent him flying into the door.
"Where is the Colonel?" Hawkeye asked and cocked her head as the sun caught on some gelatinous mess smeared on the windows. Wasn't Mustang cleaning those windows all morning to avoid doing work? What did he do, spit shine them?
"Hospital." Breda replied.
"What?" Riza turned to him and was surprised when Jean came over laughing and put his arm around her shoulder.
"Riz, we need to have a little conversation about the idiot you're going to marry." Jean began and walked over to the window.
"I am not marrying the Colonel." She said and watched the grin form on Jean's face.
Havoc touched his lit cigarette to the window and the words all jumped to life in fire. He felt her gasp. "About that..."
Breda ran over and sprayed out the flames with the fire extinguisher. "I can't believe he didn't think the curtains would catch on fire while he was giving his speech. We could have died today."
"Anyhow, he might have killed your dog by driving it to the vet after accidentally feeding it an engagement ring." Havoc put his cigarette back in his mouth and smiled. "So say yes before that ring comes out the back end of your dog and make him get you a new one?"
She didn't have to question the validity of anything she just heard. This was exactly the kind of catastrophe that would come from Roy proposing.
"First, you need to calm down." The vet, Dr. Jessie Sharp, was about to give the human the sedative instead of the dog.
Roy was on the verge of pulling his hair out. "He's not colicing is he? He doesn't have a twisted bowel?"
Dr. Sharp looked at him as he pressed on Hayate's abdominal wall and sighed. He looked at the dog's id tag and read the owner's name. "Mr...Hawkeye?"
"Mustang." Roy said and looked into Hayate's stressed little eyes and frowned. "He looks so distressed."
"After watching you drive over the curb, shrubberies and crashing your car into my office sign...I'm thinking he's probably a touch upset by your driving skills."
Hayate gave a wag of the tail and stared at Mustang. Idiot.
"I thought he would need emergency surgery." Roy exclaimed.
"What have you been feeding him?"
"Uh...meat." Roy said sheepishly.
"Why don't I believe you?" Sharp asked. "Tell me or this could be worse than it is."
"A ring?" Roy replied. "An antique ring that has been in my family for generations that was supposed to be on his owner's finger right now instead of in him?"
It was midnight and he was hosing down a pile of dog crap to see if his heirloom ring was finally out of Hayate's system. The dog was giving him a dirty look. He was pretty sure it meant, 'You're not worthy of her'. The dog was right.
"I can't wait to tell this story at the wedding." Riza said as she walked up to him and he hung his head.
"Your wedding?' He asked as the watered down poo pile revealed no ring. "When you marry another man who doesn't try to kill your dog, burn down the office or make you stay at work all night while he waits for your dog to crap out your engagement ring?"
She laughed and put her head against his shoulder as he turned off the hose. "Maybe it's time to get a house with a yard."
"How can I master flame alchemy and screw up a proposal every...damned...time?" He asked.
"Why don't you just ask me?" She grinned as he looked over his shoulder at her. "I like the direct approach. You like the dramatic flourish."
He threw the hose down and looked into her eyes. "Riza, will you marry me?"
"Yes, Roy. I will." She said and patted his cheek. "After you prove to me you're capable of going to work without my supervision."
"Well, I guess we never have to hear the story at our wedding then..."
She smiled at him. "Keep the ring for the wedding."
"I was planning to wash it..."
"Roy. I'll marry you. We have a lot to do first but when it's over...I'll be there. Until then, I cherish what we have just as much as I would if we had rings and a wedding album. I don't need all that as along as I have you."
"Are you sure?" He asked. "I want you to have so much more..."
"Positive." She said. "I'm happy with just you. I don't need the vet bills or burn victims to complicate matters."
"Ok, because I think your dog just shit out the ring. He's dragging his ass across the grass." Roy watched Hayate and reached for his flashlight to make sure he didn't forget the path the dog just took.
"I'm quite sure if I was going to leave I would have done so by now." She replied as he pulled away to go look in the grass for the ring.
"I found it!" He exclaimed and turned, flashing the light in her eyes.
"God Roy, pick it up with a stick and put it in a bag and let's go home." She sighed as he found a branch.
"I'm going to try again, proposal wise. When the time gets closer." He assured her.
"I'm sure you will." She said and shook her head as he came marching over with a ring on a stick that she was glad she couldn't see in the dark. "Can we go home now? Hayate just wants to go to bed and never trust you again."
"Sure!" Roy said and watched the tired pup walk by and give him a look that clarified he was not ever going to get in a car with him again.
Chapter 20: Tease
Written for Tumblr's RoyAiWeek2015, took first place. (thank you)
"Oh...hello Elizabeth." Roy Mustang pushed his chair away from his desk and leaned back with a smile on his face, completely ignoring the stares from the other officers in the room.
"Roy, how are you today?" Riza rolled her eyes as she got into position in the abandoned warehouse with her sniper rifle. She could just imagine the look on his face as he kicked back and twirled his finger around the phone cord and flirted, instead of tended to the mountain of paperwork she left him with. She adjusted the headset she was wearing so it wouldn't interfere with her rifle.
"Much better now that I get to hear your voice." Roy cooed.
She huffed. It had been less than thirty minutes since she left the office after he signed her vacation request. Thirty minutes. Sadly, he wasn't even having to try hard to have this conversation. "Shouldn't you be working?"
"Nah." Roy grinned and swiveled in his chair. "My Lieutenant is on vacation. No one here to ruin my fun."
"Is that so?" Riza she said and cleaned the lens on her scope. "Harsh is she?"
"God yes." Roy said and picked up a pen to start doodling on his paperwork instead of signing off on it. "You know me, Elizabeth, I'm a romantic."
Lieutenant Remington looked over at his co-worker, Sargent Mercer. They were the only two staff members left in the office today and this was what they were going to have to put up with? "Romantic? Is that what they call philandering bastard these days?"
"Lieutenant Hawkeye isn't even gone an hour and he's on the phone with a girl." Mercer whispered back. "How did this guy make Colonel?"
Riza had to smile. Yes, Roy was a romantic. There was no lie in that. She wondered how different their lives would be if he didn't have to keep their relationship secret and he could spoil and fawn over her like he wanted to. "Yes Roy, you are quite the romantic. I remember all those girls you stole from poor Lieutenant Havoc."
Roy frowned. "Well, it's hard to keep my mind off you if I don't have something to keep me occupied"
"So you dated other women?" Riza asked and listened to the tell tale squeak of his chair that signified he was now sitting up and thinking. "Why don't you try doing paperwork instead?"
"There is one thing I never did for them, that I always do for you." Roy said with a smirk.
Riza checked out the rooftops and re-calibrated her scope. "Stay out of the rain?"
He smiled and leaned back in his chair, toying with the pen again. "I never wear your favorite outfit for them."
"So help me God if he says a miniskirt..." Remington mumbled.
" Oh?" Riza paused and sighed. He was going to take full advantage of this phone call while he could. Poor Fuery was going to have to go to confession after he was done with this mission. If she didn't respond, he's drag it out until she say what he was looking for. "What are you wearing?"
Roy leaned back and ran his tongue over his lips, his smile unable to be contained. "Elizabeth, you naughty girl."
Riza had to stop what she was doing. The way he said it should have been illegal. His voice just dripped sexuality right across the phone line into her ear and made her body start to react more to him than her own command.
"I'm wearing that shoulder holster you love." Roy replied and heard her breath hitch on the other side of the phone line. "Russet leather, tapered straps, battle hardened piece in the holster just waiting to be whipped out. Ready to be cocked and fired, projectiles ready to penetrate the offender."
She hated how he could roll his 'R's and make it sound like he was rolling it in milk chocolate and toffee. It made her mouth water all the same. It made her mouth water all the same. Everything else he said she could typically brush off, but it was the way he said it that made her heart start to pound and her brain scream for more.
Roy stretched a little and closed his eyes. "A little tight though...it's starting to dig into my back a little. Maybe, you can kiss it and make it better later?"
Mercer fidgeted in his seat. "I'm trying not to listen, but damn his voice is ...making me uncomfortable."
"That just makes you human, Sargent." Remington sighed. "This is sadly the best phone sex I ever had."
"I know, right?" Mercer said and covered his face with his hand to hide his creeping blush of embarrassment. "Colonel Must-bang indeed."
Riza took a deep breath. What the hell did she say in response to that? "Maybe you should get back to work so you can get off..."
"Oh Elizabeth!" Roy said and made sure he added a very subtle moan after he said her name.
"Off work." She snapped and felt her cheeks flush as he replied with the most erotic 'mmmm...hmmmm' she had ever heard from him in her life. She really wished headquarters was in range because it was going to take a warning shot through his office window to put an end to this show.
"I need air." Mercer said and stood up to leave.
"Me too." Remington looked over and was about to inform his supervisor they were taking a break, but didn't want to interrupt. Their break was just going into the hallway and listening to Mustang's uncensored phone sexcapades. There was no use in denying it.
Roy used his pen to trace the outline of the holster through his uniform. He didn't even notice his two subordinates paused to watch the display before they shoved each other to the door. "Rubs me in some very tender places, this holster."
Riza swallowed hard and took a deep breath. He was on a roll...even though Fuery was listening and so were the two staff officers who had been temporarily assigned to the team to help get through paperwork now that so many of them were on vacation. "Roy."
"Wish it would stretch out just a bit..." Roy leaned back in the chair and rolled his pen between his fingers. "It's really tight when I get into it, pulls at my shirt and digs into my back...but loosens up a little when I work in it."
Mercer had to pull his fellow soldier from the room as soon as he saw the trickle of blood from his nose. "You have a nosebleed."
"I have more than that." Remington said and followed the Sargent out into the hallway. He dabbed at his nose as soon as they got into the hallway.
Riza closed her eyes. This could go on all day and she really needed to focus. "You should be careful, Roy."
"I make sure to keep my leather protected." Roy countered. "I rub it down with oil to keep it slick and functional."
She hated him sometimes. Smart...sexy bastard who always had an answer for everything! Two could play at this game though. "Oh? I heard that General Grumman once walked in on you during one of your phone calls to me back in East City."
Roy's smile faded and was replaced with a look of disgust as Riza mentioned her aging grandfather. "Well..."
"He told Lieutenant Catalina that you must have learned your phone etiquette from your Mom."
Roy sat up and put his pen down. Any fun he was having was coming to a quick end.
"The General said...the only difference was that you didn't charge for it." Riza grinned as she heard a disgruntled huff on the other end of the line. Playtime was over, at least for now.
"You're harsh Elizabeth." Roy mumbled and pinched the bridge of his nose. He had to concentrate on something else or the idea that his Mom and Grumman having erotic discussions was going to make him run to the bathroom to rid himself of his lunch.
"I hear that's how you like your women, Roy." Riza said and felt a presence behind her. "Hang on, I have a customer."
"Ok, enough about my Mom and her profession." Roy hissed. "Mood is ruined."
"Roy, I have...a customer." Riza repeated and turned to look at the man behind her with the unsettling grin.
"Elizabeth?" Roy dropped his pen and stood up. He pushed his ear to the phone, as if that was going to help him hear more from the phone line. "Elizabeth! What's going on?"
Riza's eyes went wide as the large man rushed her and she managed to get off a shot before he had his hand on her throat and the rifle went flying. She heard Roy's panicked voice on the headset it was pulled from her head and thrown away. His voice becoming more distant as the earpiece arched through the air and hit the wall, at the same time that the hand on her throat began to choke off her oxygen.
Mercer and Remington weren't surprised when Colonel Mustang flew out of the office and ran towards the stairwell on his way out of the building. They were surprised he managed to last that long as they were having a hard time coping with the second hand teasing themselves. Remington finally managed to say, "Lucky woman."
Chapter 21: Bedtime Reading
Riza crawled into bed and ran her hand up Roy's leg and pushed aside his expensive sheets. She saw his eyes flit up from his reading material and an eyebrow rise suggestively. She was more interested in cuddling than sex so ,as an answer to his unspoken question, she laid down on him and put her head on his bare chest. She looked up at the unmarked manuscript above her head and flicked it with her finger. "What are you reading?"
"Breda's latest fanfiction." Roy replied and lifted the reading material up so she could see Breda's handwriting. "Do you want me to read you some of my favorite parts?"
Riza groaned and closed her eyes as she pressed her head against his chest. "No. I don't want to hear about your delicious abs from any other source other than my own mind."
Roy brushed back her hair from her face so he could see her smile. "I'd like to hear what you have to say about my 'delicious abs'. For research. I'm a beta reader, I have to find out what the female point of view is. Delicious, hmmm?"
She ran her hand over his firm abdominal muscles and traced their definitive lines with her finger. "I want to know why he has first hand knowledge of how amazing these are."
"You should visit the men's locker room when Alex Armstrong is visiting East City. Lots of compliments and flexing." Roy looked back at the manuscript. "Breda is having him draw the cover for this work."
"What's it about?" Riza looked back up at him. "If it's 50 pages of drawings of Amestrian military men in the locker room, I might have to take a look."
"It's an AU Story." Roy ran his fingers through her hair. "I'm a fireman."
Riza giggled. "Did he co-write this with Elicia?"
"I have a dog who rides in the firetruck with me." Roy said and smiled. "Black Hayate rides shotgun."
"Awww…" Riza continued to run her hands over his delightful abs. "Am I the cat stuck up a tree?"
"You're a cop. Havoc is your partner who takes his shirt off a lot. A Lot. Three people have been shot just so Jean can take care of the bleeding with his shirt and bystanders can bask in the glow of his amazing biceps." Roy said with a shake of his head. Breda was really trying hard to score his best friend a girlfriend.
"Jean is pretty." Riza said and looked up as she heard the annoyed huff from the semi-nude man she was currently stroking and laying in bed with. "Well, do you take off your shirt…Mr. Fireman?"
"Clearly I have a better understanding of safety issues and dress code requirements than he does." Roy said dryly and flipped a page in annoyance.
Riza snorted. "Well that's as out of character as you can get. Give me that pen so I can write some notes to the author…"
Roy stuck his tongue out at her and then gave her a smirk. "Arrest me for being a public endangerment."
"You better be quoting that story." She said and he nodded.
"It's actually one of his better ones. It's got a plot. Falman is a arson investigator and the Elrics are the arsonists."
"Are you kidding?" Riza chuckled. She knew Heymans was a little too quiet and dilligent about his work this week, clearly he wasn't filling out forms like she thought.
"What? They burnt their house down…it's canon." Roy said and flipped to the page he had book marked. "Here is where we meet. You have the miscreants in the back of your police car and you're trying to bring them home to Mom, but the house is a pile of ash."
She looked up at him, resting her chin on his chest. He had that mischievous grin on his face that was an indicator that he was going to use his most sexy tone to read this excerpt to her. She didn't mind, she loved when he shared what he was reading to her. Usually it was alchemy or work, fanfiction allowed him to get creative and utilize his voice acting talents.
"Riza wasn't prepared for him anymore than she was prepared to see the Elric home as a pile of burning rumble. The fireman was a something out of a romance novel or pin-up calendar that the girls would hang in the locker room. He was in the process of taking off his protective gear, the outer shell of fire-proof material that shielded him from the inferno of a raging fire…but did nothing to protect her from the scorching hot body that was hiding underneath.."
Riza watched him break down laughing, his chest shaking underneath her as he lost his ability to maintain a straight face while reading. It was a pure and innocent laugh, his face no longer showed those lines of stress or weariness from the life that wore him down as he embraced the ability to just laugh. She smiled, delighting in the sounds and feel of him just enjoying the moment.
Finally, Roy took a deep breath and rubbed his eyes to continue reading. It took a few tries before he could chase away the desire to just erode into a laughing mess instead of a professional narrator. "His body was covered in soot and ash, the smokey aroma of him triggered her brain to increase her heartrate, as the smell of fire alerted her body to the environmental danger. As she took in a deep breath of his scent, she knew that the danger wasn't from the sizzling home but from this scorching hot specimen of man in front of her. He resonated with heat, she wanted to convince herself it was his body temperature from being exposed to the house fire, but she knew it was her own body…."
He broke down laughing again and she bit her lip as he tried to finish his sentence though fits of giggles.
"Her own body….generating a heat for him. If spontaneous human combustion was possible, she would have been a victim right then and there. She…"
Riza could barely understand the words he was choking out.
"She….she wanted that fireman to enter her and put the fire out…"
And finally the manuscript fell from his hand and his laughing overrode any attempts to stifle it. He was laughing so hard that tears streamed down his cheeks and his chest convulsed under her. She finally had to sit up as it was no longer comfortable to be laying on him. She put Breda's masterpiece on the nightstand and turned back to kiss Roy's forehead as he struggled to breathe. "I think you've read enough tonight."
"No.." He whimpered as he wiped away tears with his sheets. "It gets better…"
"I think that is all you can handle tonight." She clicked off the light and laid down. Immediately, he was beside her and giggling and sniffling in the darkness.
"Do you have a fire that needs to be extinguished…I can get my hose out..."
And he was suddenly in her pillow trying to suffocate himself to stop the laughter. She couldn't stop smiling as she pet her hair. She couldn't blame him for wanting to enjoy the moment for a little while longer, even if he was getting her pillow wet with tears and snot because he was laughing so hard. "Tell me he doesn't have me threaten to use my handcuffs and the back seat..."
Roy wiped away his tears and sniffled. He had to really focus as he summarized the car sex scene. "I'm so hot it's illegal."
Riza looked over at the manuscript as Roy started laughing again and went back to trying to suffocate himself in her pillow. She would have to get her hands on Armstrong's sketches when he was done with them, she knew Alex wouldn't just sketch a cover...he'd probably sketch everything of importance in the story. For now she turned out the light and settled back down into bed, listening to sniffles and giggles from the man beside her.
Chapter 22: Showing Skin
For RoyAi Week 2015: prompt Skin
"You know lady, it's awfully dangerous to be walking by yourself at night."
It was a voice from the darkness and she quickly honed in on it; the voice was coming from the alley. Riza felt the hairs on the back of her neck rise as goosebumps sprang up over arms. Hayate growled and went on point, allowing her to lock on to the source of the voice. She saw a red pair of eyes in the dark and held her bag of groceries close, ready to use it as a distraction when she went for her gun. "Thanks for the advice."
"It's just that…it makes you vulnerable to some really bad men…like Barry the Chopper!"
Riza wasn't expecting a suit of armor to jump out of the alleyway, but she had become accustomed to seeing the bizarre on a daily basis. Before the man could raise up what appeared to be a cleaver, she dropped her groceries, pulled out her gun and fired at the attacker.
"Hey!" Barry screamed. "What the hell!"
Riza watched the guy dance under the hailstorm of bullets that just ricocheted off his steel body. Hayate pulled away from her and started to advance on the attacker, cackles up and teeth bared. "Like you said, it's awfully dangerous to be walking by yourself at night."
Barry put his hands on his hips. "Damn, lady, the real crime here is letting a woman like you walk home alone! I think…I'm in love."
Riza lifted an eyebrow as the suit of armor began to glow and little hearts showed up in his eyes instead of pulsating orbs of red evil. She watched Hayate walked up and try to bite his clothes, but when that yielded no results, the pup lifted his leg and pissed on the man. So much for a night off. "Who are you?"
"Barry the Chopper? Famous serial killer!" Barry tried to flex and show off his shiny body. "If anyone knows prime flesh, it's me. And baby you have…"
Riza fired off her last round and smiled as he screamed. Barry's head flew off and revealed an empty suit. Well…yet another surprise. "What are you?"
"Oh, you like?" Barry said as he picked up his head. "Bet you've never seen a guy like me before. Now are you scared?"
"No. I have a friend who is stuck in a body just like that." Riza said and watched him re-seat his head on his shoulders.
"Alphonse?" Barry asked and finally saw surprise on her face.
She put her gun down and sighed. Yet another person that the Elrics told about their secret condition. "Come on Barry, time for you to tell us about yourself."
"Really?" Barry asked and trotted over to her side. "I love meat, tender juicy flesh, and long walks in the dark to find innocent victims and carve them up. I love you too. Will you tell me your name?"
"Lieutenant Hawkeye." She said and walked to the pile of groceries Hayate was sniffing through. "Can you pick these up while I make a phone call to my supervisor?"
"Sure babe." Barry looked through everything she had bought at the store. "You should eat better."
Riza entered the phone booth and called headquarters. She watched Barry sift through her groceries and talk to Hayate about her poor choice in food. He tried to feed the puppy broken eggs but Hayate was still suspicious of the guy. Barry rattled on about 'you are what you eat' and how he wasn't a fan of 'ramen fed beef'. She listened to the phone ring until he picked up.
Riza felt a small smile touch her lips. She had the day off but she had to admit she missed hearing his voice. She needed a break from scolding him, but she missed it more than the aggravation of keeping him working. She was looking forward to surprising him when he got home, but apparently another one of their dates was ruined. "Colonel…"
"Lieutenant! Is everything alright?"
Her smile broadened. He could hear so much in her voice from one word that it sometimes amazed her. It never ceased to make her heart swell. "Sir, I caught some weirdo and I think…"
"Who you calling?" Barry asked and tried to get in the phone booth with her. "Hey, why not just hang out here with me for a while? Look, those guys over there are drunk and real easy targets….we could chop them up."
"Barry, get out of here." Riza tried shoving him away from her, especially since he smelled like roadkill and dog piss.
"Or you could watch me chop them up." Barry put his hand on her shoulder. "Oh baby, there is nothing like that first hack into a meaty limb when the skin splits under your cleaver and the flesh is revealed…."
"Who the hell are you talking to?!"
"Colonel, we're on Grove Street and Buckley Avenue. Can you come pick us up?"
"Who is 'us'? Nevermind, I'll be right there."
"Colonel! Drive safe." She knew it was a stupid request. At least it was late and there would be fewer people and objects to hit. She hung up and shoved Barry out of the phone booth. "Now sit down and wait."
"What about him?" Barry nudged her and waved at the drunk man staggering to the phone booth.
"We are not killing anyone." She said and heard tires squealing in the distance. Roy was on his way.
"You don't know what you're missing out on." Barry said. "Taking someone's life…then grinding them into hamburger…."
"Shut up Barry." Riza winced as she watched Roy's car swing around the corner and the passenger side mirror go flying off as he hit the lamppost with it. She was safer sitting next to the murderer than sitting in that car with Roy. Barry must have seen that too, because he encompassed her with his metal arms and shielded her with his body as Roy came at them with intentions to park on the sidewalk or in the mailbox.
"Lieutenant!" Roy was out of the car as soon as the bumper touched the corner of the phone booth. He heard screams and wondered what was wrong with the guy who staggered out of the phone booth and into the street, crying and vomiting. He saw Riza shove the armored guy off her and stand up as he went over to find out what was going on.
"Who is this loser?" Barry asked. "He drives worse than my blind grandmother!"
Roy stopped and looked at the guy briefly before making sure Riza was unharmed. "Who is this?"
"Her boyfriend, Barry." Barry chirped. "So shove off buddy."
Roy glared at him. "Her what?"
Riza opened her mouth to explain, but apparently Barry was a touch starved for conversation and companionship.
"That's right pal, look at this." Barry pointed to a hole in his armor and tapped it. "Shot right through the heart, like cupid's bullet. Dog even pissed on my leg to declare I'm his. I'm a lucky guy. I mean look at this gorgeous woman! "
Roy watched Barry's mitten hands point towards Riza's leg. Her exposed leg, revealing her thigh holster and way….way too much skin.
"Look at the .38 caliber strapped to that silky smooth skin. Delicious flesh and cold hard steel." Barry purred. "My kind of girl."
Roy cringed and reached for his glove. Nobody was allowed to talk about Riza like that. Yes she was beautiful but that wasn't for some creepy stranger to declare to her in the street! "Lieutenant, step back. I'm going to teach this fool a lesson for talking about you like you're some slab of meat."
Riza opened her mouth to say something, again, but Barry jumped up beside her.
"If anyone knows meat, I do. It's a hell of a compliment!" Barry pointed a finger at the newcomer. "And if you have a problem with it…."
Roy's eye twitched. "I do have a problem with it, nobody talks about my Lieutenant like that!"
"She's her own woman!" Barry snorted. "She's a bad-ass who single-handedly captured a serial killer tonight. She's not anyone's Lieutenant…."
"Boys!" Riza snapped as the locals were beginning to circle and enjoy the weird conversation. "Can we sort this out in private? Colonel, he has information…."
"Lieutenant, the only information I need is what his boiling temperature is."
She frowned. Oh fantastic, he was in jealousy mode. "Colonel, stop!"
Roy gave her a glance and saw the annoyance on her face. He put his hand down and she came over to him.
"He's got information. He knows Alphonse." She whispered. "Calm down."
"Are you Ok?" He asked and saw her nod. He opened the back door to the car and pointed to the back seat. "Fine, Barry. Get in."
They spent most of the night in warehouse 13 interrogating Barry. Roy struggled with the serial killer's constant flirting with Riza and by the end of the night was tense and frustrated by everything he wanted to set the place on fire. He sent Barry and Falman to a safe house and helped Riza clean up the area they used to make sure nobody knew they were here. He finally looked over at her as she bent over picking up some trash and cleared his throat. "That skirt is a little….revealing."
Riza laughed as she threw a few crumbled pieces of paper into her grocery bag. "I was going to surprise you tonight. This wasn't exactly the surprise I was going for."
"Really?" He asked and gave her a smile as she walked over and rubbed his tense shoulder. "If I knew that I wouldn't have worked so late."
"If you weren't working so late I wouldn't have wanted to surprise you." She grinned as he looped his arm around her waist and pulled her in for a gentle kiss.
"Listening to that bastard drone on about your flesh and skin all night…God did I want to char him to a crisp." Roy put his forehead against hers and sighed. "Then I realized that it was that hand of mine that burnt you…marred your flesh like some deranged serial killer and I….wonder who is the real criminal here."
"Stop. That's not you and you know it." She placed a kiss on his lips and ran her hand over his face.
"It is though." He glanced over at the chair Barry was sitting in. "Only difference is I have a higher death toll and nobody held me accountable for any of it."
She pulled his face to hers so he would have to look into her eyes. "We both bear these scars and we don't savor the kills or delight in the memories. That doesn't make us any less guilty, but we keep moving forward to try to fix this world. So let's go home. Let me rub these knots out of your shoulder and make you dinner like I planned on doing tonight. Or something like dinner since it's now either on the sidewalk or in the trash thanks to Barry."
"What was dinner?" He asked and leaned into her touch as she massaged a knot on his shoulder. "I hope it wasn't steak."
"Ramen like you had for lunch the other day. With egg and chicken." She said and watched him chuckle. "Don't tell me you didn't like it. You raved about it. You were moaning so loud i thought I walked into the second floor of your Mom's bar by accident."
"The team and I had a small wager…" Roy smiled. "To see who could moan suggestively over lunch and make the others uncomfortable about it. I won, Falman came in second. Havoc and Breda laughed too hard to compete and Fuery screamed like he was being tortured."
It was that boyish grin that made her worries about him go away. "So you didn't actually enjoy it?"
"As much as I like spinach quiche which is…"
"Not at all." She sighed. "Well then…I guess I'll order some take out since I know there is nothing edible in your apartment."
He gave her a shrug. "Sorry."
She felt his finger's roll up her thigh to her holster and she blushed a little. "I..thought you'd like it."
"You never show this much skin." He said and grinned. "Thighs too. You know me too well."
"Let's go home and enjoy what little time we have left before we have to get ready for work." She gave him another gentle kiss and pulled away to grab her grocery bag and Hayate's leash while he flipped off the lights.
Chapter 23: Fired
For a Tumblr Drabble Request
Roy finally managed to slip away from Mrs. Havoc who was putting forth a maximum effort to have him dance with her 'very available' daughter. It was a relief, he worried that the matriarch of the Havoc family would blame him for Jean's injury, but instead she found his dedication to his subordinates endearing. So endearing she wanted him to marry into the family.
He made his way through the wedding crowd as the guests started to gather for the cutting of the cake. Jean and Rebecca's wedding was probably the biggest party this little town had ever seen. They weren't just celebrating the nuptials, but also Jean's recovery from his career ending and life altering injury. The folks here attributed his recuperation to his determination and the care of his loving girlfriend, now wife, Rebecca Catalina. jean returned home an injured warrior and they treated him with honor and reverence, now he was walking again, walking down the aisle no less, and he was elevated to something beyond hero. Even more so after they watched Catalina put in a new pond for the wedding with surplus explosives, these folks were used to only tornadoes having that kind of destructive power and yet Havoc had this gal working the counter at the General Store. He was probably more of a demi-god now.
It was what Havoc deserved, it was what he believed all of his men deserved. That happy ending, that world where people could be happy. As he set his eyes on Riza, he wondered why he still didn't have the courage to make sure that she had that happiness. Something beyond just 'happy to be alive' and 'happy to be beside you'. The look on her face said that, despite her statements to the contrary, she really did want the wedding, ring and family. "Quite the ceremony."
"The whole town is here." Riza was amazed at the turnout.
So they were going to engage in small talk to avoid discussing the overwhelming feelings they both had. Standard operating procedure for them, unfortunately. "I didn't notice. I was too busy ogling the maid of honor."
Riza pursed her lips. "Well , you didn't notice every girl here dabbing drool off their chins when they saw you in that damned tux."
"Wait a minute, are you jealous?" He asked playfully.
Riza didn't respond and instead watched the newlyweds cut the cake and her best friend bash a slice into her new husband's face. A little more force and she probably would have knocked him off his feet. Rebecca never did anything halfway. "Let them drool. I get to lick icing off your abs tonight."
"Why do I get the feeling the bridesmaids had more important discussions than the groom's party." Roy asked. Prepping Jean for the wedding had turned into a full fledged operation as their one task was to keep him from smoking. The one present Rebecca wanted was him to quit smoking, stating the rest of their lives wasn't going to be cut short because of some damned cancer. Noble as that was, denying a man smokes on the day of his life changing decision was somewhat cruel and an outright nightmare. It seemed that the bride's party was a lot more relaxed and there was no tackling, pleading, burning or crying involved.
"I think he's going to be needing his wheelchair again just to get out of the honeymoon suite." Riza grinned and saw the soft look of adoration of Roy's face. "I'm happy for them."
"I want you to be that happy." He said and she rolled the stem of her wine glass in her hand. "I've had to relinquish my hold on this team so they could move on. I was holding them back while they supported me. Falman's married and enjoying the North. Fuery is playing with new technology and testing it in the field in the South. Breda finally is out of my shadow and able to show what a good officer he is and is already a Captain. Havoc's got what he was fighting for. Now, I look at you and see how I'm holding you back. You're content, not happy. Of all the people in this world I wanted to protect and serve, it was you."
"Roy..." His change in tone was alarming. She studied his face and he made sure to stare at his wine instead of look at her.
"So, we need to figure this out. You need to trust me to protect myself or you're going to have to find another job. I'm holding you back, personally and professionally. You made me destroy that tattoo to be free from your father and now I have to destroy this too so you can be free. So, Captain Hawkeye, you're fired for drinking on duty."
She looked at him and he waited for her to react. She could see the pain on his face despite his voice being unwavering and definitive. He wasn't wrong, nothing could change while they maintained this course. She felt her hand shake, something that never happened, and she set her wine glass down. "Clever. I am here as your bodyguard ,not your date, even though everyone knows otherwise."
"I love you Riza. I love having you beside me every day, I love knowing you're safe behind me. However you almost died in front of my eyes and that is something I think about every time I see the scar. The scar on your back, the scar on your neck...you have given me too much. I don't deserve you, but you deserve someone to treat you like a queen and give you that world two foolish dreamers wanted to see. That won't be something you can see in my shadow, but I'd like to show you if you'll stand beside me for the rest of this journey."
"You're serious." She said and watched him nod slowly.
"Yes." He said and put the wine glass to his lips, hoping that the smell of alcohol might provide some comfort. All it did was make him queasy. "I know you're not happy. I want to see you that happy."
She watched his point to the happy couple as they laughed and cleaned cake off each other.
"You can't do that while you're burdened with me." He said. "You've kept me on my path, you've done your duty. The job is done. To go beyond this point I...want a family to keep me true to my cause. That in creating this better world, I need people to protect. I need it to be personal. We removed a man from power who wasn't human, I don't want us to lose our humanity because we think it makes us weak. Compassion, vulnerability...is a blessing not a curse. I had nothing when I lost my eyesight but you and when I got these eyes back I fixed them on the top and not our future. That has to change. I don't want to remain distant and safe, I want to see this better world and know it's safe for you and our kids."
She understood him and tried not to cry. It was time for a new chapter in life. Just like when she said goodbye to him at the end of his apprenticeship or after he burned her back. She let him walk forward because he was ready to go, but she found him when he needed her support. So now, it was time to allow him to rise without her and support him differently. However the conversation was coming a a horribly inappropriate time, as always. She took a deep breath and said. "Stop calling the puppies our kids."
He gave her a smile. She was always there for him, even in the worst moments. She was trying to salvage the conversation from becoming too somber. "Major Armstrong told me earlier he was looking for someone to interview for a position he has...an intelligence officer. He was complaining about people not wanting to transfer to Ishval to take the job. I think...you qualify for that and since you are already stationed there I doubt you have an issue with the location."
"Too bad someone marred my record by firing me." She said and he gave her that coy smile that made her want to rub wedding cake in his face.
"Well that paperwork won't get filed until Monday." He finally took the drink he had been waiting on. "And I am notoriously bad about filing paperwork. If someone put a transfer request in front of me first, I'd probably sign it and have to destroy that dismissal form just to avoid looking like a fool."
Riza allowed all the pieces to fall into place and as much as she appreciated his plays, she also wanted to smack him for playing her. So as he took a sip of his wine to finish off the glass she asked, "Roy Mustang, will you marry me?"
Roy spit out his drink and unfortunately sprayed it all over Breda's date for the wedding, General Olivier Armstrong.
Olivier had been walking to the drink table to get more wine, since Breda's cake consumption required her glass of wine to wash down the thick, buttery icing. Ensuring he had plenty of fluids while he tried to devour whatever was in front of him was essential to keeping his body functional and not crippled with digestion issues later. She was here to have a good time and in no way did that involve Roy Mustang's body fluids anywhere near her.
It was a shame that he had just fired his bodyguard, as she was the one who usually saved him when he was about to be immobilized by water. The pond that Rebecca had so lovingly created in the soybean field with surplus TNT, was where Roy landed after Olivier reached across the table, grabbed him by his shirt and flung him with the strength passed down in the Armstrong line for generations. Riza stood on the shore as some ducks waddled away and an angry swan began to threaten Roy for swimming close to her nest. She could hear the laughter from the party and knew this would be a story that would be passed down in the Havoc line forever. When Roy emerged from the water he gave her a smile, despite dripping wet and covered in soy bean stubble.
"Yes." He said and placed a wet,chilly kiss on her lips. "You want to help peel me out of this tux and celebrate our engagement?"
"You smell like algae and fertilizer." She said and had to laugh. "Why don't you go take a shower and I'll get some cake for us to enjoy."
Chapter 24: Free of the Burden
AN: Written for a Tumblr prompt, "I wish I could hate you."
Free of the Burden
"I wish I could hate you." Riza whispered in his ear, needing to break the silence.
Roy felt another warm tear roll down his cheek as she whispered those words, the first words she said after he burned her. He had no idea what to say, but as soon as he smelled the all too familiar scent of burned flesh he threw off his glove and scooped her up into his arms to hold her. He clung to her thin body and cried while she suffered without a sound in his arms. He hadn't said a word, there were no words that could be said.
"It would make it easier on both of us." She said and pulled away from him far enough to look at his face. She felt relieved to know that she wouldn't have to worry about her tattoo anymore, happy to be able to move past her father's hold on her even from the afterlife. Happy that she wouldn't have to worry about someone finding her corpse somewhere and taking her secrets when she was no longer able to protect them. Finally free of the burden and the pain she kept inside all these years. The pain was worth it, but she saw in his eyes that he bore the brunt of the pain from this action. "I could blame you for my mistakes, you could earn the hate you think you deserve...but I can't Roy. I can't hate you, I wish you could hate me."
"I wish I could hate my father." She took the cloth he was too scared to use on her burn and dabbed away his tears. Such beautiful eyes that once shone bright, now tear filled and dark with demons. "We made our choices, nobody forced us to do anything and we're going to pay for our mistakes. We both understand Truth, equivalent exchange...penance. I can't hate you, but I can hate this world that made a good man bad. I want to help change it, I want to help you change it."
He pressed his cheek to hers and choked on some mucus generated from his crying. "I wanted to save this world for you."
"You just saved this world from me." She whispered and smiled. "There will be no more flame alchemists."
"I wish you could hate me." He choked on a sob and held her close as he finally looked down on the red, burned flesh on her shoulder. He deserved her hate and he wanted to give her that, he wanted to give her someone to loath and blame for everything. He lead her down this path, his mistakes blazing a path for them into hell. "I wish you could hate me as much as I hate myself, because you deserve better."
"Then I'll save you from yourself, because I could never hate you." She whispered. "Wherever this path leads, I will follow you. I never have to watch my back again, so I will watch yours."
Chapter 25: One Dance
AN: Another Tumblr prompt: "I've seen the way you look at me when you think I don't notice."
Riza couldn't believe her ears when Havoc told her that the Colonel 'dismissed him and told him to find a better pair of eyes for the task at hand.' The easy going blond shrugged it off and tapped his cigarette carton against his palm as she stared at him. She was shocked and appalled at the way Mustang just insulted one of his favorite officers. "Jean..."
"Whatever, Riz. He's all worked up over something, so clearly the shit is just rolling downhill. Whatever..." Jean placed a cigarette on his lips and lit it, puffing it to life before taking a long drag and leaning back against the support column outside Eastern HQ. "Has to be something, he's always in a good mood when the occasion calls for formal wear so it has to be something earth shattering that set him off."
Riza stood outside as the gentle warm summer breeze blew the smoke from Havoc's face and she saw him gazing off into the darkness. The occasion in question was a formal party for a visiting foreign dignitary from Xing. A lucrative trade agreement hung in the balance so the Amestrian military went all out to impress the official. It was a black tie affair event, not a military ball, the goal was to impress not intimidate the man, however their job was still very much the same: protect everyone. Jean had been positioned to watch as guests arrived and went, watching for suspicious activity and providing security on the perimeter. There was no way he didn't perform his duty.
"Well, better get going before he gets more agitated. Clearly the situation requires the 'eyes of the hawk' instead of the 'baby blues of Mrs. Havoc's boy'." Jean took another puff of his cigarette and heard her heels clicking on the marble stairs as she went back inside.
Riza was annoyed at first and by the time she walked up the last flight of stairs to the roof, she had managed to escalate to downright outrage. Roy had no right to take out his frustrations on his men, he was supposed to be better than that, and this team put too much on the line for him for him to abuse his power like that. What the hell was he thinking? She trusted Jean to do the job as she would have herself in a situation like this, there was no reason for Roy to insult his professionalism and...
There was a snap and the ground around her suddenly lit up in a circle made by several dozen illuminated tea candles. She took a deep breath and held it as her anger defused and she wanted to kick herself for falling for this. No wonder Jean wouldn't look at her, he knew...
"I couldn't let the most beautiful woman here leave without having at least one dance."
She turned and saw him, Roy Mustang in all his formal splendor. She never told him how good he looked when she straightened his tie or adjusted the way the chain of his pocket watch hung on his vest. He never could not tell her how incredible she looked in her dress and thigh holster. It was how it had to be, because she could maintain her cool despite his sweet words of admiration and he couldn't if she even breathed a word of how one look at him almost unraveled her composure.
"I've seen the way you look at me when you think I don't notice." He said as he stepped inside the circle of flickering lights and stood in front of the woman who never failed to take his breath away. She looked up at him with mild surprise as he spilled the secret he had kept since the first day they worked together in the office. "Why do you think I do half of what I do if not to just see you react and have to look at me?"
She stepped forward and pulled him by the lapel of his tux down to her so she could kiss him. His arms were around her instantly, pulling her into his chest and giving in to that longing kiss that never failed to betray now much they both wanted to be together. She pulled away and ran her hands over his chest once before wrapping her arms around his neck. "Well, you look incredible."
"I know." He said with a smirk and watched her give him the admonishing smile he adored. "That's why I wanted better eyes..."
"Better eyes for the task at hand." She repeated Havoc's words and shook her head. "You are getting careless."
"Your best friend can't keep secrets and Havoc's always known." Roy whispered and saw her look of surprise turn to annoyance. "But enough about Rebecca and Jean, right now this dance is just you and me."
She watched his hand open and the vent to the ballroom below opened, allowing the music from the orchestra to float up to them from the party below. Then he pulled his gloves off with his teeth and gave her a seductive wink knowing she'd react to the non-verbal promise of things to come later when his teeth helped peel off her dress. He leaned in for a kiss as she felt her heart quicken at the thought of him undressing her, her mind returning to the present immediately as his lips touched hers again. Right here and now, it was about one dance.
He ended the kiss and he shoved his glove into his pant pocket. Then he took her hand in his, eyes fixated on the beautiful woman in his arms as he guided her around their own personal ballroom on the roof. Even if they were downstairs amid the hundreds of guests, he still would have been lost in her eyes and smile as if they were alone. They weren't missing out on anything, secretly he was glad he didn't have to share this moment with anyone and nobody could intrude.
Chapter 26: Mermaid AU
For an AU theme post on Tumblr: Mermaid AU
Roy looked up from his notes at the setting sun and reached for his pocket watch to verify the time. He had spent another day sitting on the decrepit old dock studying for his certification and it was time to go back to the barracks. He slapped his notebook shut and took in the serene scene before he went back to prepare for another week of mundane military life. The sun was slipping down over the horizon and the reflection on the still waters mocked him; flame danced on the waters, so casually and yet so elusive. It was beautiful to the eye, but in his mind he was trying to understand that power the sun held and harness it for mankind. Maybe then he could master the element he needed to make himself stand out from the other cadets vying for the prestigious title of State Alchemist. Maybe then he could make something of himself.
He heard splashing and wondered if it was the chimera one of his classmates had created to get himself transferred out of the academy and into a lab. It was hardly a chimera, just an unlucky carp and sea bird who Johnson managed to transmute into something that wiggled around long enough to wow a government official. It however, went missing and cadets were spooked by the idea that there was a 'mermaid' loose in the lake. It worked in his favor, he needed somewhere that was quiet to study and now nobody wanted to be anywhere near this lake but him.
The splashing continued and he leaned over the edge of the dock to see if he could perhaps catch a glimpse of this 'chimera' and see how ludicrous it was. It occurred to him that he was probably working too hard to impress these government people, he didn't need a finished product to get into the esteemed alchemy program. He just needed to impress someone enough to make them think he had talent worth developing. Just good enough for the government, that was all it took.
He looked at his reflection in the water and really hoped he would be out of here before winter this year. There was an annual plunge into the almost frozen lake that was mandatory of all cadets for their physical training and he could do without that ever again. He didn't do well with cold and he would be happy to be locked up in a warm lab with nothing but books and reports to write all day. So he had to make progress or freeze his ass off again. There was incentive.
It was at that point he noticed something change in the water below, almost like there was a different set of eyes looking back to him. He reached out to touch the water, curious if it was some kind of optical illusion because of some refraction of light. He reached out and placed his fingers on the water surface and watched the ripples roll away, but something touched him back and his eyes grew as wide as the ones looking back at him.
He scrambled back and knocked his notebook and pencil into the water. Suddenly the horror of what happened was no longer as urgent as the panic from losing two years of work into the lake. He lunged for the notes before they could sink below the surface and came face to face with a startled young blond girl. "What...who are you?!"
She held out his book and waited for him to take it back. "I..."
"I haven't seen you before." Roy said and took his notebook back. "You can't be swimming here if you're not a cadet. This is a private military facility."
"I live here." She replied and swam just far enough away to keep her out of arms reach but still close enough to study the cute young man.
"Oh." Roy said and tried to dry off his notes with his uniform jacket. He really didn't get to interact with many of the families of officers that lived at the base. "I'm Roy."
"Riza." She said and he gave her a smile as he showed her his book.
"Thanks for saving this. I owe you."
"What is so important you spend your weekends working on this here instead of leaving like the other cadets?" She asked and he continued to dry off the pages.
"I'm studying to become a State Alchemist." Roy replied and noticed that sour look on her face. "Not a big fan of alchemists?"
"No." Riza admitted and swam a little closer to him. "My father is one."
Roy raised an eyebrow. "Really? I didn't realize there were any practicing alchemists here, only aspiring."
"His research didn't go as planned so he doesn't really come out of hiding anymore." She explained and realized she was getting too personal too quickly. "It's getting late, I should go."
Roy watched her begin to slip below the surface again, clearly intending to swim back home instead of walk back to with him. "Wait. You asked why I spend my weekends here. So, you've been here with me before?"
Riza sank into the water up to her chin and knew she shouldn't tell him much more, but she really wanted someone to talk to. "Yes. I guess you can say I'm shy."
"Maybe next weekend you'll come over before I have to show up for roll call?" Roy asked with a smile.
"You should study. I thought that's why you were here."
"I could use a break." He countered. "Someone to share my lunch with too."
"Roy, you're nice but..." She looked away and he leaned over the dock to get closer to her.
"What are you afraid of? If you're afraid of your Dad finding out, who is going to tell him? This entire camp is afraid of this lake because they think mermaids are real." Roy gave her a smile. "We already have something in common."
"You're a mermaid?" Riza asked curiously.
"No." He grinned. Finally he was going to be able to tell Hughes, 'Yes, you dick. I did spend some time with a girl this weekend.' "We're not afraid of some ridiculous rumors."
Riza sighed. Then lifted her fin out of the water in front of his face and said, "They're not rumors."
"Roy!" Maes Hughes threw his bag on his cot and sat down on his friend's bed. He nudged him and said, "You would not believe the girl I met this weekend!"
Roy was laying on his cot and just staring at his book without reading a word. He doubted Hughes found a woman more unbelievable than Riza. "Oh?"
"She's just so cute." Maes squealed. "I took her to that carnival and we got our picture taken in that photo booth thing..."
Roy glanced up and looked at the picture. He had no choice as it was flopping against his nose as Maes shoved it in his face. He leaned back and looked at the girl and grunted. "She's one of my Mom's girls. You pretty much just got the basic escort package, she probably just wanted a free meal."
"Again?" Maes pulled the picture back and looked at her again. "This wouldn't happen so much if you would come with me on weekends. You're never going to meet a girl."
"I met one this weekend."
"Here?" Hughes asked and then leaned over his friend and whispered, "A cadet?"
Roy shook his head. "No, a chimera. Apparently I met the mermaid everyone is afraid of."
Hughes frowned. "God Roy, tell me you didn't make some weird sex doll with alchemy. I mean..those blow up ones are ridiculous and I'm sure with some basic knowledge of anatomy you can make something more lifelike...but fish? You have to watch for small bones..."
Roy finally sat up and shoved Hughes away from him. "No, she's real. Her Dad turned her into a mermaid. Apparently the reason I could never find the Flame Alchemist was because he turned himself into a fish chimera after teaching the wrong apprentice Flame Alchemy. Something about mistakes and it no longer being safe on land because of his work..."
"Alchemists." Maes shook his head. They were a odd breed. "You're all so paranoid and dramatic."
"This isn't a joke. Berthold Hawkeye is an incredible alchemist if he can master Flame alchemy and also create a chimera. It's no wonder he's hiding in the lake. Even without being paranoid and fatalistic about his work, the military would have never let him just leave. However his daughter doesn't deserve to live her life there and I'm going to help her get out."
"Oh? You going to make her an aquarium?"
"Stop it Maes, I'm serious." Roy snapped.
"Oh, it's serious." Maes dropped the mocking tone for a split second before smirking and adding. "So...when you guys have kids does that mean you're going to be the one pregnant? Like a seahorse?"
Roy slapped his notebook down and crossed his arms. How in the hell did this guy become his best friend?
"Get it?" Maes poked him. "Mustang...sea horse?"
"I got it. It just wasn't funny."
Maes slapped his leg. "You could get a catfish as a pet!"
"This isn't funny. This girl's father turned her into a damned fish and she's spent the last few years living in that lake with nobody but him." Roy kicked Maes to try and get him off his bed and picked up his notebook again. "I'm going to help her."
"Ok!" Maes held up his hands in a universal signal of surrender. "What can I do to help?"
"I...don't know." Roy flopped back onto the bed and ran his hand through his hair. "I can't even fathom how Hawkeye did it."
"That is pretty fucked up, turning your daughter into a fish." Maes nodded in agreement and realized Roy was talking about not understanding the alchemy.
"Even if I could figure out how he did it...I would never take the risk with her life to try and turn her back into full human." He rubbed his eyes and finally voiced the doubt that was lingering in his head the past year. His alchemy studies weren't enough to get the slightest bit of attention from his superiors. He was outclassed and just ordinary as far as the military was concerned. He just wasn't good enough and maybe it was time to just invest fully in being an officer. It was what he was here for. "I'm not even a real alchemist. I can't do more than simple parlor tricks and recite basic chemical jargon. It would take years before I could even comprehend what he did and I may never be good enough to perform a transmutation of that scale."
"Do you want to be the Mermaid Alchemist?" Maes asked and watched his buddy's sad little puppy dog eyes open up and look at him. He was really struggling with this and it was the first he had heard Roy even hint that he was thinking of giving up.
"No." Roy frowned. God, that really could be a thing.
"Then make her Dad fix her." Maes said simply. "He clearly knows how to make mermaids already."
Roy sat up and mulled that over. He had a point. "He's trying to hide her away from the world, I doubt he's going to change her back into a girl just because I demand it."
"Well, then go back to the Lady of the Lake and ask her what it would take to make her father change his mind." Maes winked. "Wield Excalibur and become King, make Merlin bow before you and serve you."
Roy cocked an eyebrow. "What did you do with your 'date' this weekend? Did she con you into taking her to a play?"
Maes pouted. "It was a great date. I really thought we had something."
"You had money." Roy patted his shoulder. "You also have a really damned good idea."
Riza was skeptical about Roy's promise to help her and she spent the week regretting telling him as much as she did. She didn't even hesitate to tell him her secrets and she wondered if she was really that miserable that she would prefer confiding in the wrong person. Someone, like her father's last apprentice, who used his knowledge to create a horrible weapon. If she was wrong about him, there was a possibility she'd end up in some lab. That was, if anyone believed him. She was desperate and could say that any change would be better than this life.
It was a long week, he could only get away from the barracks when he had a weekend and she spent most of that week worrying about everything. Did she have the right to make a decision for her father as well? Did he deserve that when he never gave her a choice? She tried to talk with him but he was still so unapproachable, spending his time in his underwater study scratching out notes in the cliff side with rocks like he used to with pen and ink in his study in their house. She never thought she'd miss their house. She never thought she'd miss her life. She was always shy and never had many friends and she hated that she was responsible for their household when she should have had a carefree childhood. Whatever that life was, it still was better than this existence as some hybrid monster in a tiny lake. This wasn't living.
Finally Riza heard slapping on the water and someone calling her name. She was as cautious as she could be, making sure there weren't cadets on the shoreline with nets or harpoons, and she wanted to mock herself for the thought. She really didn't even how what kind of threat she should worry about in her current form. She swam back to the pier and emerged from the waters to look at the boy she had trusted and asked to save her. His smile made her worries fade away.
"Riza!" Roy laid on the worn wood of the pier to get closer to her. "I have a plan."
"So soon?" She asked. She just wanted to find out that he hadn't betrayed her, but this was even better news.
"Well, I can't change you back." Roy watched her expression change and immediately reached out to her to try to reassure her. "Don't worry, I know someone who can."
Riza watched him caress her hand to try to comfort her. "Roy, I took a huge chance even telling you."
"Your father." He said and her eyes darted up to him and he saw then how scared she must be of the man. It gave him the confidence in his plan that he needed. "Your father changed you into this, so he knows how to change you back."
"He will never..." Riza felt the reassuring squeeze and couldn't pry her eyes from his face.
"You said that he did this to take you away from a world where Flame Alchemy was a weapon. You said he was terrified of the destruction his work could create, right?"
"Yes." She replied.
"Well then I'm going to show him that he's not safe in the water either." Roy grinned.
"So explain to me again why I agreed to go buy you a car that doesn't run?" Maes looked at the amount of combustible material Roy was jamming into the car he bought. "Because it really looks like you're planning to set it on fire...on a restricted area on a military base. I know you hate the cold water plunge, but getting court-martialed is a bit extreme..."
Roy bit his lip. "Well, if we're lucky nobody will be looking this way when it actually starts burning. However once it does, I plan on sending it to the bottom of the cove so I doubt anyone is going to investigate. I mean...there is weird stuff going on here all the time."
"Like my best friend dating a mermaid?" Maes asked.
"Don't judge me when you're dating a hooker." Roy countered. "And this is going to be spectatcular. One of those things you can wow a real woman with when you figure out how to date one."
"Doubtful." Maes mumbled. He lifted up his neat steam punk goggles and put them on. "At least you bought me something cool."
"I don't want to blind you." Roy finished up his work. "Ok. Here is what is going to happen. The engine block is magnesium and it burns hot, very bright and reacts to water. The hard part is getting the magnesium to burn as it requires its entire surface area heated in order to ignite. I think I fixed that by borrowing a few things from the arsenal..."
"Oh my god, we're going to prison." Maes mumbled.
"No, we're not. The evidence will be burned up." Roy said and showed him the transmutation circle on the ground. Once we get this fire started, I'll use this transmutation circle to lift the ground up and allow the car to roll into the..."
"Roll? Won't the tires and rims burn?" Maes asked.
"Shit." Roy shrugged. "Never mind, I'll just dump it in there if need be. The circle will allow me to move the earth however I want. Once the engine block hits the water, the magnesium will react to the oxygen in the water and burn hotter."
"So you're going to scare her father into changing themselves back into humans because you have underwater fire." Maes shrugged. "This is really elaborate, you might want to consider just paying for your dates. I have a girls number..."
"Maes. This is going to be more violent and awful than anything that man thinks he made with simple flame on land. The reaction is intense. Hell, even the hydrogen in the water becomes explosive gas and contributes to the process. It's amazing." Roy said cheerfully and saw Maes's look of concern. "We won't get caught."
"You're setting the lake on fire." Maes said and shrugged. "I guess that's one way to impress the alchemy program recruiters. I hope it impresses the girl."
"And it indeed impressed the girl." Maes said and dabbed at the tears streaming from his eyes. "And I am so happy that the new Mrs. Mustang is not a fish because...Roy swims like a panicked dog and there is no way he would have made it upstream to spawn. That is how this beautiful couple came together four years ago and I..am so happy for them. So happy that we finally graduated and Roy got himself a wife."
Riza leaned over to whisper in her new husband's ear. "So, he's working for military intelligence now?"
Roy was leaning on the banquet table, holding his hand over his eyes as Maes gave his best man's speech. "Yes."
"Where they entrust him with secrets." Riza said playfully as she watched some of the guests whisper amongst each other.
"Yes." Roy mumbled.
Riza ran her hand over his and took it away from his gorgeous face. Four year ago he managed to scare her father out of that lake and back to civilization. Her father was impressed with his skill and even more impressed with his motives, so he agreed to accept him as his new apprentice. Roy was reluctant, he didn't want to see her back in her father's care but she really was a long way from being able to feel comfortable in society again. He agreed to become her father's student but he also demanded to be her teacher. He wanted to show her the life she had missed out on and show her what advances she had missed. He showed her what it was like to live and eventually love. "Did he really make that sea horse joke?"
Roy cocked an eyebrow as he looked at her. "I'm surprised he didn't try and stuff my pillow under my shirt and tell me to practice carrying my offspring."
She smiled and leaned her forehead against his. "It is quite the story."
"You're quite a woman." He replied and placed a tender kiss on her lips. "Thanks for believing in me."
She looked into his warm eyes and realized that maybe they had somehow managed to save each other. The alchemist who was ready to give up on himself and the girl who was trapped in a cold lonely world without escape. "Let's dance. I'm tired of hearing about the past, let's leave it behind us and enjoy our future."
Chapter 27: Follow in my Footsteps
AN: A Tumblr drabble based upon fanarts of Maes Mustang
Follow in My Footsteps
"Dad? Can I have this?"
Roy looked over at his son rifling through the laundry on the floor and knew he shouldn't have delegated the task to the kid. Maes was supposed to be helping him sort the colors and whites and not using it as his own personal thrift store. Still, the boy looked so excited to claim his old academy hoodie that he it was going to be hard to deny him. "It's a little big for you, isn't it?"
"Who are you calling small?" Maes quipped and clutched the hoodie in his arms and frowned.
Roy raised his eyebrows. That couldn't be coincidence, but he'd let it slide. "Wouldn't you prefer a uniform or something? I bet I can get one for you from work..."
"It won't be red." Maes lifted up the hoodie and showed him why he really wanted the sweatshirt. "Red is the color of awesome."
Like fire? The good Jell-o? Sure. He looked over at the clock and sighed, he really needed to get ready for work. "Listen, let's talk about it tonight OK? I have to go to work. Can you help your Mom with the laundry?"
"Aww...Dad..." Maes pouted and his Dad ruffed his hair as he walked past him to use the bathroom. He looked around and put the hoodie on the bed for later and picked up his Dad's pant cape and went back to his room to try it on. He put it around his neck and admired himself in front of the mirror, resting his arms on his hips to look imposing. Maybe everyone was wearing these wrong, having a flap on your butt seemed kind of silly. He tried striking a pose like his Dad; chest out, arm stretch and fingers ready to snap.
Roy went about his morning ritual which was extra annoying considering it was Saturday. He stopped in the kitchen for one last cup of coffee, kissed his wife and went to gather his paperwork before she could ask him about the laundry. Then he shoved all the paperwork away in his briefcase, unlocked his desk drawer to get out his service pistol and put it in his holster. Next he gathered his things, placed them by the door and filled his pockets with wallet, watch and glasses before meandering back to the bedroom to finish getting dressed. He grabbed his jacket and put it on then looked around for his least favorite item. "Hey Riza?"
"If that laundry is on the floor when I come up there..."
"No honey!" He scrambled to get everything put back in the laundry basket and hamper before she could find out he didn't do his job. "It's where it's supposed to be. My pant cape is not."
"Maes!" Riza called out. She didn't need to elaborate on why.
Maes frowned as he heard his Mom call up from the kitchen. He unbuttoned the cape and started walking back to his parents bedroom when his father met him in the hall. "Just playing.."
Roy couldn't be mad at him, he was just trying to be like his Dad and that warmed his heart. He took the cape and bent down to give the boy a hug and determined he'd get him his own uniform at work today. "I'll see you later, ok? Then we can play?"
Maes nodded and his father left, fighting with his pant cape on the way down the stairs. He looked in the bedroom and saw the hoodie on the bed and an idea formed. Yes, they could play later and it would be epic!"
There were moments in parenting when you just marveled at how destructive a child could be while trying to do something endearing. These moments were amplified by the fact that Maes was his father's son.
Riza was currently staring at her precious first born who was draped in what used to be Roy's favorite sweatshirt; a ragged thing that he kept from the academy, a red hoodie with a flaking decal. It was no longer. Instead it was modified by Maes who took it upon himself to use a pair of giraffe shaped safety scissors to cut down the length of the sleeves and cut an opening right down the front of it so that it was more of a hooded cape. A red hooded cape, the kind made famous by a certain Fullmetal Alchemist.
"Mom, please?" Maes felt tears in his eyes as he had screwed up the flamel symbol on his hoodie and it looked more like a question mark. "How am I going to be an alchemist if I can't draw it?"
Maes's tears began to flow and she knelt down next to the boy and took his marker away from him and the scissors that were anything but safe.
"Dad's coming home to play and I am the Question Mark Man instead of the Fullmetal Alchemist!"
Then there were those moments that you wanted to laugh because your child could come up with some of the most unexpected things to say. She didn't know what was funnier, the new superhero name or the fact that Roy's child wanted to be Ed. "It's Ok baby..."
"Mom, I don't know how to fix magic marker with alchemy!" Maes wailed. "It's permanent marker!"
Oh god, that was even worse. Roy was probably going to be crying tonight over the loss of his favorite shirt. "I used to help your Dad study alchemy, maybe I can help fix it?"
"Can you?" Maes wiped away a tear and Hayate came over to see why he was crying. "Can you draw it right?"
Riza nodded hesitantly. Oh well, the damage was already done. What could a little more marker and detail do that hadn't already happened?"
There were moments in parenting when you just marveled at how destructive a child could be while trying to do something endearing. These moments were when Roy Mustang questioned if Maes was his son and Riza proclaimed that he most definitely was..
He stared at his son in the hall, now wearing his red hoodie as a unmistakable replica of Fullmetal's ridiculous red riding hood cape. Riza knelt next to him, the proud mother glaring at him and daring him to say anything even remotely not positive about their child's betrayal.
"I'm the Fullmetal Alchemist and I challenge you to a battle!" Maes cried out and waited for his father to react. Dad could be very dramatic, but that look of shock was getting old.
"Ha...ah..." Roy swallowed hard and Riza's glare intensified. He offered his present, a child size uniform. This was supposed to go differently. "But son, I got you a uniform and it's your size!"
"Who are you calling so small he can't wear an adult one size hoodie!" Maes said and pointed authoritatively at his Dad.
"Oh...God no." Roy said and saw a flicker of anger in his wife's eyes. Save yourself Roy, you didn't pick up the laundry just to die when you came home for this! "Fullmetal! Seriously! You know you're military and should try acting like it! Here I got you a uniform, shrank it so it fits...I mean wouldn't you feel so much cooler looking like me?"
Maes shook his head. "Uncle Ed is cooler. You can't make me a dog of the military!"
Who was this child? Roy leaned over and tried again. This time pulling out the gloves he had made at work. "What about being the Flame Alchemist? Wouldn't that be awesome? Look at these cool gloves!'
"Fight me!" Maes said and put his hands on his hips. "The winner will be the hero and the loser the sidekick!"
Then he marched off and Roy was left standing there wondering how so much happened in a few hours. Then he noticed the symbol on the back and the almost perfectly drawn lines. Too perfect for a child who drew the pictures on the refrigerator. "So you helped him defile my hoodie and family name."
Riza stood and kissed his cheek. She smiled. "The damage was already done. Now go outside and lose to the boy."
"You're going to watch, aren't you?" Roy said and she took the cute uniform he had from him and kissed him again.
"From the kitchen while I make dinner and call Winry to tell her about this." Riza chuckled and left her husband to fend for himself.
"So I hear your kid wants to be me!"
Roy leaned over his desk and reached for the decanter of bourbon as he cradled the phone against his shoulder. He had just spent two hours in the back yard being 'attacked' by Fullmetal Mustang as Maes threw play sand at him and build things out of the landscaping stones. "Yeah, Ed. Fullmetal finally beat me in a fight."
"Pffttt. You're memory is getting fuzzy in your old age."
Roy poured the drink and leaned back in his chair and looked at the picture of him and Hughes from graduation. He didn't want to tell anyone that the hoodie wasn't his, it was Hughes's. His had been ruined in a fight with a cadet over something he couldn't remember.; a brawl in the rain and the hoodie was so nasty after that he couldn't salvage it. Hughes gave him it so he could have something warm to wear on the way back to the dorms. Maes let him keep it, saying red wasn't his color anyhow. So now his name sake took it back. He wasn't going to tell anyone because thinking about it made him misty eyed as it was. "So I think it might be time to hold up that promise you made me."
"Yeah? You think he's ready?"
"Ed, if someone doesn't teach him alchemy I'm going to end up blind again. He can't transmute dirt so he throws it. In my face." Roy said and knocked some more sand out of his hair.
"He's my favorite."
Roy shook his head as he sipped some bourbon. Talking on the phone with a friend, just like he used to. Hughes would have loved to talk about this.
"So about that uniform you got him..."
"Oh he won so the Flame Alchemist is his sidekick." Roy savored the fine whiskey and it's oakey flavor. "Hayate is wearing the uniform because he obeys orders better than me."
Ed had to put down the phone he was laughing so hard, but when he did come back he took a huge breath of air and said, "Actually I happen to have a similar problem on my front."
"Too small for adult size clothes?" Roy quipped.
"Asshole, I hope he starts flinging shit at your face." Ed said with another laugh and then gave a heavy sigh. "No, Sara apparently wants to be a military dog. The worst kind...a State Alchemist who has terrible taste in music and can't control his subordinates."
Roy's spirits raised. Was Fullmetal's spawn...idolizing him?! "What?"
"You heard me. She's singing that damned rap of yours. Read your memoirs. Quoting you. She's about ready to get deported to Xing if she keeps it up so maybe we can just trade for the summer. You teach my kid, I teach yours. I think she'll fit in that uniform, she's petite for her age."
Nice, Ed. Petite. "I can't teach her Flame Alchemy, you know that." It was why he had Ed promise to teach Maes when it was time. There could be no more Flame Alchemists but it would break his heart to tell their son that over and over. He didn't want Maes to be like him, wondering why his apprenticeship ended without the honor of taking over for his master.
"I know that, but good luck convincing her. She is trying to use Winry's mechanic know how with my books on gases to figure out how you control combustion. She thinks it's in the carburetor, something to do with the fuel and oxygen mix. She took apart the damned tractor. So yeah, I'll take your kid but this doesn't seem like equivalent exchange."
"Alright Ed, sounds like a deal."
Chapter 28: Expired
AN: I drew this picture and it's on Tumblr. I finally have found something that my level of art skill is useful for.
Roy stared at the picture on the fridge and crossed his arms and gave an authoritative nod. He used his Armstrong imitation voice and said, "I appreciate the colors you used and the detail is extraordinary. And what incredible emotions! Clearly doodling has been passed down in the Mustang line for generations."
Maes laughed and hugged his father's leg and squeaked, "I'll make more. Come draw with me Daddy!"
Roy turned to look at his wife as she came up next to him, their son scampering off with his dog to continue to make use of that crayon box he got. "I'm glad that I have overridden any anti-milk propaganda that Fullmetal might have been spreading. I mean, look at me...all majestic and tall promoting calcium and dairy. Why are you frowning here? Why don't you support my nutrition campaign?"
Riza watched his finger raise to the scowl on her face in the drawing. She sighed and said, "You missed the meaning of the piece completely."
Roy snorted. "Oh really?"
She tapped her finger on the milk carton as he smiled at her refuting his art critique. "What the artist is trying to convey is that his father didn't pay attention to expiration dates. So that little figure on the side of the carton, that missing child, is the baby in this dark belly of mine."
"What?" Roy pulled his reading glasses out of his pocket and put them on. He saw the words 'missing' on the side of the carton now. Maes must have asked Riza to write that as he was incapable of writing anything that small.
"Yes. Apparently someone overheard us talking about you not paying attention to the expiration date on the condoms and assumed we were talking about milk. You know, since that's the only expiration date he knows. So he thinks that the baby is the kid on the carton because I drank bad milk. " Riza watched him smile, trying not to laugh. Then he pulled his glasses off and grinned at her, proud of the connections his son managed to make with context clues.
"That's pretty cool reasoning." Roy said and saw she wasn't nearly as amused. The condom incident was something he wasn't going to live down. Riza was suspicious of taking birth control while breastfeeding and after their daughter was born it was back to condoms. He didn't think to check the expiration date on the condoms in the drawer, they had been in there since Maes was born and apparently lost their effectiveness ages ago. Riza wasn't too happy with having back to back kids considering how much Elizabeth didn't sleep and how needy Maes was for attention.
"Go ahead and laugh." She said and pointed to the top of his figure's head. "If you look closely to the details, your son made sure to showcase your grey hairs."
"My what!?" Roy screeched and pulled the drawing off the fridge to look at it. "I thought that was milk!"
"Realism." It was Riza's turn to smile and he glanced over at her when she did. He put the picture back on the fridge and pulled her over for a kiss.
"Must have gotten that from his beautiful mother." He said and then casually ran his hand over his head and whispered. "I don't actually have any grey, right? You said you pulled that one hair out..."
"Go draw with your son." She said and ruffled up his hair. "He doesn't have a white crayon. I, however, have a white grease pen..."
"You're mean." He said and picked up the plate of cookies she had baked and grabbed the milk carton. He looked at the side and snorted. What a connection to make. Missing kids and expired milk. "He's going to be an alchemist when he grows up for sure."
"He already has your artistic skill level." Riza said recalling the doodles that graced Roy's paperwork back in the day. "Are you sure you're okay with him surpassing his old man?"
"Woman, stop calling me old and talking about grey hair!" Roy spat and retreated to the living room to draw with crayons and eat cookies with his son while his daughter ,Elizabeth, was still asleep.
Chapter 29: Alarming
So I wrote a few RoyAi baby drabbles with Roy falling asleep at the helm while watching the kid (he's overworked and there isn't much sleep in that household- it's allowed), so now it's Riza's turn. The Shirley Temple Infomercial and the LeapFrog singing caterpillar are obnoxious and probably play on the elevator on the way to hell.
She should have listened to her husband but now it was too late.
Riza looked into her son's eyes and they were already filled with tears as he sniffled and prepared to start crying. She should have listened when Roy said the boy hated certain songs and now one of them was on the radio. Maes was going to drown out the sound of it by screaming at the top of his lungs if she didn't turn it off first. She abandoned the stove and her frying pan of oil sizzling with a lovely dinner and raced into the living room to try and turn off the radio.
She jerked the dial so hard it snapped off and the Shirley Temple collection infomercial continued to play. It was too late, Maes was already wailing and shrieking in protest. She should have listened to Roy, he said the kid absolutely loathed that song and had an equally poor reaction to the singing caterpillar toy they bought him. Now she understood why the caterpillar was burned in the back yard, because she was three seconds away from throwing the radio into the fire to calm her child.
God he could scream. How could something so small make a sound that massive? He inherited his father's lungs, he must have and his talent of manipulating oxygen into something deadly. She winced as he hit a pitch in his scream that made the crystal vase on the the mantle hum.
Riza finally tracked the power cord to the outlet behind the couch and pulled the plug on the damned radio and Maes's wails filled the house. She looked up at the clock and realized it would be at least ten more minutes before Roy got home, if he managed to get out of work on time. So there was no one else to do what had to be done and she peaked out the window to make sure he wasn't home yet before committing to the heinous deed that had to be done.
She sighed, defeated, and started to return to the kitchen. Maes's screams now reaching a decibel that Alphonse could probably hear in Xing. She cleared her throat and closed her eyes as she started to sing, "Oh snap snap...spark spark..."
She opened her eyes as she arrived at the kitchen to appear in the doorway for her dramatic entrance. Maes was a huge fan of his father's dramatic flourish and would giggle and laugh whenever Roy put on a performance. She just didn't have the same playful and uninhibited nature, but she was going to try none-the-less. It was rare that she would partake in such silly things and Maes might just be shocked into silence. So she jumped into the doorway and sang, "Time to light up the..."
"Oh my God the stove!" Maes screamed louder as the unattended pan on the stove burst into flames. The grease fire quickly set off the smoke alarm as the towel next the pan caught on fire as well. Suddenly all hell broke loose as the smoke alarm beeping woke up every sleeping dog and pup in the house. She scooped up Maes first and set him down in the playpen by the back door to make sure he was away from the flames and close to an exit if this got way out of hand. By the time she turned to put the lid on the frying pan the puppies were all racing for the doggy door and evacuating en mass. The lid hit the pan and snuffed out the small inferno on the stove as she went to shove the dish towel into the sink with the fork.
Then Bianca, Roy's seeing eye dog turned spoiled house pet, tried to pull her by the sleeve and get her out of the house. That ended with a flaming towel landing in the overfilled trash can. The morning's newspaper caught on fire easily as it had bacon grease from Roy's morning breakfast sandwich all over it. Bianca continued to try and escort her from the house but she screamed "NO! GO OUT NOW!" loud enough that she could be heard above the alarm, baby screaming and Hayate howling. That was enough to send the dog away and she grabbed the trash can and ran to the bathroom where she threw it in the shower and turned on the water. The little bit of grease was no match for the water and soon the fire threat was over even if the alarm was still going off and the house smelled like burning trash and charred chicken. She turned off the water and turned to go back to the kitchen to make sure the threat level could be lowered and walked right into Roy. He must have just got home and heard the commotion, donned his gloves and come to save the day.
Roy could see from her face that there was little need for worry and he cocked an eyebrow at the trash can smoldering in the shower. "Hi honey, I'm home. Snuck out a few minutes early."
She gave a tired smile as she walked past him and into the kitchen where they looked at the smoke hanging in the air and the smell of ruined dinner and burned terrycloth assaulted their sense of smell. The fire was out. Good. "So, I owe you an apology."
Roy used the mop handle to press the reset button on the smoke alarm and silence it's annoying beeping and the howl of Hayate who was sitting outside the back door alerting the neighborhood. "Did you decide to start teaching Maes flame alchemy after all?"
She went over to the stove and shut off the burner. She didn't even want to lift the lid to see what a nasty mess dinner was now. She must have looked defeated because she felt Roy's arms wrap around her and squeezed.
"We can go out to dinner." He placed a kiss on her temple and looked at the aftermath of the small kitchen fire.
She closed her eyes and leaned against him, rubbing his forearm with her hand. It was finally quiet and she just wanted to take a shower and go to bed. "You were right. Maes really doesn't like that Shirley Temple infomercial."
"Well burning the house down seems a little extreme, but understandable." Roy gave her another kiss and looked around the room. "Where exactly is our son?"
Riza tensed and looked over at the playpen. It was empty. "Oh shit!"
Roy released her as she broke loose and ran to the play pen in a panic. The same play pen that Maes had escaped from last week thanks to the puppies. He whistled for his dog and the doggy door moved as a white nose checked to make sure it was safe before entering. "Fire's out, come back in guys."
Riza looked over as the doggy door flapped several times, the pups all coming in with their mother to greet their favorite person in the world. Then one 'pup' struggled to get the door open and was run over by another, but finally crawled through the opening with Hayate's assistance. It was her pup, Maes. Maes started crawling over to the dog bowl and she got down and scooped him up before he could snack on any kibble. She wiped snot from his nose as Roy came over to pick some flower petals out of his hair.
"Why don't we open the back door to let the kitchen air out and go upstairs to change." He said and gave her a kiss on the cheek. "Then I'll make dinner and you can take a nap. He's kept you up a few days in a row, I promise I won't fall asleep on the job watching him this time."
"You don't get enough sleep either." She said and her baby boy was lifted out of her arms and he squeaked happily as his father let him try to pull his gloves off. She opened the back door and the pups danced around at Roy's feet as he talked to his son about his day. She followed them and looked back at the kitchen and thought about the mess in the shower and determined today would be a great day for take out.
Chapter 30: Reunited
AN: Tumblr drabble Request
Riza sat by the fire under the protective cover of her hooded cloak. She kept her eyes down and held her rifle close to her body and tried to shrink into non-existence. She could feel his eyes on her and regretted how she had met him again after all these years. She had hoped that he wouldn't remember her, but those eyes of his told her that he never forgot.
Her father's apprentice was no more, she could see that in his eyes. That innocent idealist that wanted to protect people was burned up along with the other countless souls who had died by his hand. Before her today was the Flame Alchemist, a tortured man who was now a victim of the alchemy as her father had been.
And she made him.
She shivered as the cool air began to signify the night was approaching in this barren desert. She managed to keep her hood over her eyes as she huddled on a weapons crate, avoiding eye contact and also participation in the world around her. She just wanted to go to bed, avoid the aftermath of their awkward meeting from this afternoon and just pretend like she was going to sleep. She stiffened as she heard boots shuffling on the sand and smelled a more putrid smoke that could not be created by the logs in the pit. Then there was someone beside her and she knew she couldn't avoid him any longer.
What could she say? What could she say to the boy who had been her first kiss and first love? On a chilly night like this in their teenage years they would have told each other everything under the stars and huddled under a blanket for warmth, yet now she shivered because she was afraid to talk to him. She was the one who passed on this curse to him, not her father.
She tensed again and wished she could just leave, despite all she had been through this moment scared her. To lose him to alchemy was something she understood, it was what rotted her father from the inside out, but to lose him because she gave him those secrets was a pain she wasn't prepared to endure. He nudged her gently with his arm and she had to look up at him, if only to mutter an apology for destroying him. Her eyes lifted and she looked at him, fire from the pit reflecting in his face and dark eyes, and she could only whisper, "Roy."
The conversation was heated on the other side of the fire thanks to Hughes's winning streak at cards. He felt they were secluded enough to talk for a few minutes. "I'm sorry. I never wanted you to see what I did with your secrets. You trusted me and I betrayed that trust. I..."
Her hand reached out to grab his and squeeze it. "I did this, I gave you something that has been a curse for my family and I foolishly thought it wouldn't be for you."
"I never thought I'd see you again." He said and gave a weak smile. "Out here things are surreal, I have no idea what month or day it is. Time passes so slowly when we're not doing anything and too quickly when a fight looms on the horizon. I wrote you letters, burned them. I wanted to tell you something but you could always read between the lines. I...just chose to let this desert consume me and if the time ever came to explain myself, I'd spare you the knowledge of what these hands did."
"I'm so happy you're alive." She said and he looked at her surprised.
"Even after what I have done..."
She squeezed his hand harder. "You followed orders."
Roy sighed. "I wish it was that simple."
"I know." She said and he squeezed her hand in return. Her rifle was still in the crook of her arm and in their vision each time they looked at each other. Following orders didn't seem so noble anymore.
"You've been watching over me." He said and she nodded.
"I have someone to protect, that is why I joined the military." She replied and his eyes widened. "So stop being so careless."
"I.." He stuttered and then thought about that. "Thank you."
"I still believe in your dream, Roy." She said and looked across the fire at Roy's friend who was laughing about having another excellent hand. The same man who was bragging about a letter from home this afternoon. "Someone has to make sacrifices to ensure the world is a good place for people. People need to be protected."
Roy looked at Maes's smile and understood what she was saying. Some people could carry on and make a happy life for themselves. So many lived in this moment right now, somewhere miles away in a city or in a field looking at the stars in front of a fire without ever knowing the horrors they had seen. It was what protectors did, shielded those they cared about from the worst the world could throw at them. It was a role they had know, both he and Riza, as their lives had already been pockmarked with tragedy and they knew how to keep moving forward. They knew how to shoulder the sorrow and pain and keep fighting for something better. "I'll make this world a better place, Riza. I'm not naive anymore. I can see how bad it really is and why I need to fight harder to make that dream a reality."
"Then I'll protect you." She said and he squeezed her hand again. She shuffled her cloak so that it was covering their hands and they sat beside the fire together, silently thinking of a future where all this suffering would not be for nothing.
Chapter 31: Approve
AN: For FMA Fic Contest on LJ, Prompt #345: Approve
"Approve? I most certainly do not approve of this!"
Elizabeth Mustang stood in front of the mirror in the hallway and put on her lipstick. Her father was beside her being exceedingly dramatic as always. "I'm sixteen, Daddy. I don't need your approval for what I wear on my dates."
Roy Mustang was ready to cry. His daughter, his precious baby girl, was ready to go out on a date. With an Elric. Wearing a miniskirt. "That is too revealing."
Elizabeth smacked her lips and ensured the lipstick had the proper coverage before looking down at the skirt her father was getting all worked up about. "Daddy, don't be a hypocrite. Uncle Jean has told me a hundred times about your declaration to 'make miniskirts the mandatory uniform for all female officers' once you became Fuhrer. He's still bitter about that not happening."
Roy whimpered. He looked over at Riza who was laughing in the living room while reading her book. Laughing. During a national emergency. "Elizabeth, don't twist my words."
"I'm not twisting them." She said and looked at her father. "I repeated them, verbatim."
Roy wanted to shield his eyes. That skirt was so short. So short. "You're grounded."
Elizabeth laughed. "For what? If anything this is one of your campaign promises that some of your supporters have been waiting for you to make good on."
Riza was laughing again. Roy closed his eyes and tried to come up with something that he could do to prevent this from happening.
"What? So changing the military code is only a good idea when it benefits you?" Elizabeth took a few steps closer to her Father who was always putty in her hands. "After you criticized Great-Grandpa for wanting to give you a 'free pass' on the fraternization laws so you and Mom could get married? Oh Fuhrer Mustang is just as bad as his predecessor it would seem."
Roy winced. Why did his daughter have to inherit his manipulative skills? And his dating prowess? Why? He said nothing as she came over and gave him a peck on the cheek.
"I'll be home at eleven." Elizabeth said and turned to grab her purse on her way to the door.
"Not so fast." Riza finally made an appearance after her husband managed to cave in, once again. "You will be home at eight and Curtis will come in with you and have dessert with us. You're also going upstairs to change right now or you can invite Cadet Elric in to have dinner with your family instead of going to see that movie."
"But Mom, Daddy said..."
"Where did you get that skirt?" Riza asked thoughtfully. "Is that mine?"
"Oh gross." The teenager said and shut her eyes. "You know I made this with alchemy and yet you have to put that mental image of you and Dad...ugh. Gross."
And just like that the love of his life saved him again. Riza was his hero.
Chapter 32: Silence
AN: A Tumblr request for a prompt "Yell, scream, say something"
Riza had barely choked out the words she had been rehearsing all day and she wasn't expecting to be met with silence. Roy's face froze and he stared at her in shock allowing her to verify that she did manage to vocalize the words and wasn't just imagining things.
It was something she was all too familiar with however right now she didn't want to be alone. She didn't want to listen to her breathing or the faint tick of the clock in the kitchen. She found no comfort in the silence and she finally shattered it with a plea, "Yell. Scream. Say something."
Roy raised his eyebrows. He took a breath and licked his lips as he digested her words. "We're...having a baby?"
She wasn't expecting that. She wasn't expecting him to glow and a smile to form on his face. She didn't even realize her hands was shaking until he reached out to take them in his own and squeeze them.
"I'm going to be a father?" He said and looked at her for confirmation and she looked back at him scared and unnerved. "Riza... I never...I..."
"Roy." She pulled her hands free, needing to take control of her body and fear. She put her hands over his as a euphoric glow lit up his face with something she hadn't seen since before the war. She gave him hope again and now she was going to rip it away. "We can't. Not now. This can't happen."
"Riza, we'll get married." He said and still couldn't focus on the reality of what she was saying. "I promise, I'll be a better man for you...for our baby. We'll give him or her everything we never had."
"Roy..." She felt the tears streaking down her cheeks and he pulled his hand free to brushed them away. They had been back from the war in Ishval six months. He was finally promoted and assigned to a permanent position in East City. She had just joined his staff two months ago. This...ruined everything. "This can't happen. Your goals..."
"Mean even more." He said and pulled her into his arms as she started to cry. "I'm not saying I'm ready for this or that it doesn't make things complicated but...we're just starting this journey. We're just starting and if this is the road we take than it won't be so damned dark for both of us."
"We can't..." She said and her tears wet his neck as she mumbled into the crook of his neck.
"We can do anything." He said and stroked her hair. "If you don't want this, that's another story. I understand, you're going to be a mother and that transforms your life into something completely different. If you don't want this...I'll understand. I'll support your decision."
She leaned back so she could look at him, the man she loved. No..this was the man she fell in love with, the glimmer of innocence and idealism that she thought was dead. How one simple, microscopic little life that was growing inside her could resurrect this part of him was beyond her comprehension. He had resigned himself, and her with him, to a life of service to attain these goals. The goal of changing the country was the only spark of hope that had resided in him, now..now he glowed with it. He'd give that up if she told him to, if she told him that this path was not what they deserved than he would accept it. She started to cry more because she loved this man and she wanted the life neither of them deserved.
"Do you want this Riza?" He asked. "Whatever you decide, I will make it happen."
She believed him. No matter what she said, he was capable of still making everything happen. She believed him and believed in him. So as frightening as it was to admit, she nodded yes.
Roy started to cry too and had to take a deep breath to maintain enough composure to ask a much more important question. "Riza Hawkeye, will you marry me?"
"Yes..." She said as tears obscured her vision and snot dripped out of her nose. She cried harder and thankfully he decided to wait to kiss her and just pulled her into a hug.
Chapter 33: A Kiss
AN: Tumblr prompt: "Kiss me please"
Riza could feel his eyes on her, following her around the office and noting every move she made. She shook her head, usually when Roy returned to the office after a morning full of meetings he was eager to sleep or complain about his job. Not today. Today he skipped lunch and stayed at his desk to enjoy another hour of studying her. "Is there something I can get you, sir?"
Roy pushed a pen around his desk and looked at the empty chairs his staff would be returning to in about half an hour. He stood and walked over to the filing cabinet beside her and leaned on it. "A kiss?"
She slammed the drawer shut and looked up at his puppy dog eyes and pout. "Sir…."
"It's been a rough morning….just give me something to get me through the rest of the day. " He gave her a weak smile. Passed over for a transfer to Central again and he wanted some simple comfort. "Kiss me please?"
She could see it in his face and hear it in his voice, the disappointment. Whatever happened in today's meeting did not go in his favor. She leaned over and placed a gentle kiss on his cheek, then gave him another on his pouting lips. "It's going to take time to reach your goals, you know that"
He gave her a smile and stood up straight. "I have promises to keep, and I keep everyone waiting."
"You'll get there." She said. "Just not if you keep up your little kiss requests in the office."
"I'm good. I got what I needed. " He said and went back to his seat to start working on the pile-up of work from the morning and his smile didn't fade.
Chapter 34: Caught
For a Tumblr prompt: "I know you're afriad but we can't hide in this closet forever."
"I know you're afraid but we can't hide in this closet forever."
Roy could feel her smile against his cheek as she whispered the words in his ear. "You think this is funny?"
Riza bit her lip as he asked that in a hushed tone. Yes. Yes she did think this was funny. After all the times they had almost been caught doing something they shouldn't have been , they were now in the most danger hiding in the Hughes's bedroom closet. "You should be more afraid of this awful casual shirt collection your best friend owns..."
Roy squeezed her left butt cheek in an attempt to admonish and silence her. He could hear the floor squeak outside as Hughes tried to find him.
"Hey, Roy? Where the hell are you?"
Riza couldn't believe this was how Hughes would finally find out about them: opening his bedroom closet to find two half dressed people who were supposed to be babysitting his kid. She wasn't sure if there would be a high five for having a girlfriend or five shots for making out with her while he was supposed to be looking after Elicia.
Roy looked though the small crack in the door and saw his shirt and pants in a pile next to the bed along with Riza's blouse and skirt. Hughes didn't make it that far yet. Dear God, why did they have to come home early!?
Riza could recall a time when she hid under the stairs with Roy when her father was shuffling around looking for them. That time it was her that convinced him it was safe to sneak a few kisses and her father came home early. They both were terrified then, but right now Roy was just trying to save himself the embarrassment of Hughes smothering him with the knowledge...and probably seeing her in her underwear.
He was sure Hughes was gone and he pushed the door open a little and leaned out of the closet. "We go out the window, say we were chasing some prowler. Explains why we weren't here and also why we're sweating."
She let him slip out of the closet and go first, he was sadly very adept at getting dressed in a rush. He tossed her clothes to her and opened the window to check his escape route. While she got dressed she watched him steal a lipstick from Gracia's dresser and quickly lean out the window to doodle some transmutation circle. This was insane, but she agreed it was necessary. Hughes would be relentless.
Roy made a small ladder out of the siding using alchemy and waved to Riza to go first. She picked up her shoes and gun as she crept over to the window and crawled out, then descended quickly and waited. Roy got dressed and heard Hughes coming, pushed the closet closed, slipped out the window, closed it and climbed down. A quick circle and a clap later and the ladder was once again part of the house. "Ok, lets go in the front door."
Riza was just going to keep her mouth shut. This was Roy's doing, he had insisted they could have some private time as soon as Elicia was asleep in her crib and didn't count on the Hughes coming home early. She felt like a teenager, this was ridiculous, even if it made her feel a little normal for a change.
Roy marched into the house like he would have done any other day: Colonel Mustang, Flame Alchemist, saving the day! Instead he was greeted with the snap of a camera and Hughes smiling at him, grinning...and he knew he was screwed.
"So, cool thing I bought called a Nanny cam." Hughes said and waved at the small cameras on the coffee table. "They take pictures at regular intervals on a timer, you stash them around your house to keep tabs on your babysitter. In the kitchen, living room, nursery...bedroom."
Roy's hand didn't leave the doorknob. Gracia was trying to hide an embarrassed smile as she stood beside her husband. These two deserved each other.
"You catch your babysitter in the act of...well I guess I need to develop them to find out exactly what, huh?" Maes grinned. "Want to have some tea while I go to the darkroom and see what we got?"
Roy glared at him as he walked over to the couch.
"Looks like there was a...struggle here." Hughes said with a grin. "And I think someone might have been in my closet looking for my safe..."
"I hate you." Roy growled as Hughes came over and petted him on the cheek.
"Do you want me make doubles for you?" Hughes asked and Roy stepped back and slammed the front door as he left. He turned to look at the console table and saw Roy's keys, wallet, watch and gloves laying there next to Riza's purse. He scooped them all up and carried them with him to the table where he grabbed the other cameras and then smiled at his wife. "They'll be back for dessert. I'm going to go see what action my wildlife cameras caught while we were at dinner."
Gracia cringed as she heard Roy screaming "Shit!" and a thud as someone kicked a car. "Are you sure you want to do this?"
"Yes." Maes nodded emphatically. "Oh hell yes. Trust me, I roomed with him in the academy I doubt there is anything here I haven't already walked in on. Especially sex in my bed. He fell out of his bunk once and that was the end of that."
Gracia sighed and gave him a look.
"Oh, you mean expose their not so secret relationship?" Maes shrugged. "Yeah, I really want to give my best man speech while I'm young enough to remember it. Oh and can you imagine their kids playing with Elicia? Yes, this conversation is long overdue."
Chapter 35: Wedding Preperations
AN: For a Tumblr fic meme prompt "Does it need to be this long?"
She heard rustling in the bedroom and Hayate was nowhere to be found. He was a really good boy, but there were times when he just couldn't resist getting into things. She walked into the room and was surprised to see him sitting there, staring at her closet. Her eyes drifted over to a protective plastic bag on the floor and her wedding dress being lifted up for inspection by the man who she was going to be marrying. She put her hand on her hips and cleared her throat. "I thought tradition stated you weren't supposed to see that dress before the wedding."
"See the bride in the dress." Roy said and winked at her. "I waited this long to get married, I think I can sneak a peek at what you'll be wearing."
She went over and looked at it again. She had pulled it out of the closet almost twice a day to make sure it was real and look at it over herself in the mirror. "Do you….like it?"
"Does it really need to be this long?" He asked and tried to not crack a grin. "I was hoping for a mini skirt…"
She picked up the plastic bag and went to cover her dress again as he held it out for her. "Well that was for your eyes only. However if you insist…."
"No…no…" Roy replied. "I'll defer to your judgment, Lieutenant. This is definitely the best option."
She reached for a pair of scissors on the dresser and pointed to a place on the dress. "Here? Is this short enough for a mini skirt. Would be a shame since everyone will see my garter and the top of my stockings..."
"Oh..." He bit his lip. "Would not want that. The dress is perfect as is, careful with those scissors I'd hate for it to snag something."
She grinned as he took the dress and hung it up, then put the scissors in a drawer. "Why don't we talk about what you're wearing."
He turned and looked at her as she got a more serious look on her face. "My dress uniform? Did you change your mind and want me to wear a tux...I will...honey it's your wedding and..."
She walked up and put her finger on his lips. He fell silent, puppy dog eyes asking what he could do to fix what was bothering her. "What you're wearing on our wedding night."
"Oh god Riza, please don't make me wear that thong Armstrong gave me." He took her hands in his and squeezed. "It's not funny when you get the 'talk' about how it has helped his family maintain fertility for generations. I felt my balls suck up into my body when he started talking about sperm count and how testicles needed to breathe and have air circulate..."
She put her finger on his lips again. "I was actually referring to condoms."
So this was about the flavored condoms his Mom gave them? Thanks Mom. "You know how my Mom is, don't think I am expecting..."
"I don't think you should wear any." She said as he let the conversation go way off course from where she intended. "I mean...I..."
"You want kids? Now? Not later?" He asked. They had talked about this and agreed they wanted to move forward and start a family but...that was something for a little later.
"I'm getting older Roy, I don't know how much longer I really have to make this happen." She had been thinking about this more than the wedding. "I know we like to plan and we want things to be done at the right time, but we're running out of time. I also...I don't want this to become a goal we have to achieve, when we do decide it's the right time, I don't want it to happen like that. I just want it to happen. I want it to surprise us, I want to let down my guard after all those years of fearing that I might get pregnant and taking every precaution to prevent an accident...embrace the lack of control. I can't think of a better time than now because we're starting a new chapter of our lives and...I don't want to fall back into our old routine of fearing this. "
He kissed her. "That..sounds amazing."
"Yes." He said. "You're right, it shouldn't be work. It shouldn't be deadlines. It shouldn't be fear or apprehension. It would be. This...is amazing. I mean, we could be parents. We could celebrate our marriage and end up making a life...another one. Are we really going to do this? Try to have a baby?"
She felt relieved, this felt right. "We're not going to stop it from happening. It's liberating isn't it? Not fearing that we're going to get caught for being together anymore?"
"Yeah." He kissed her again and ran his finger down her cheek. "It's about time."
Chapter 36: I Thought You Were Dead
AN: For a tumblr prompt request: "I thought you were dead"
I thought you were dead
Riza wiped the sand from her face and spat out some more as she sat up. She was in pain from the fall from the second story window, but as far as she could tell nothing was broken. She reached for her rifle and looked for cover, there wasn't any.
She spat out some more sand and chambered another round and waited. There were gunshots, screams and finally the soft crunch of boots on sand. She let her eyes dart to the side of the building for a split second, then returned to the window where she felt the greatest risk of danger was.
Her heart pounded and she tried her best to control her breathing. Snipers did not sit in an open field, they took up position in buildings, under cover or lay prone on the sands away from the fight; They didn't sit and wait to be picked off in the backyard of an abandoned family home. There was nothing but desert behind her, she was the easiest target an enemy could be offered. Her rifle put her at a disadvantage in close combat, but she wasn't ready draw her pistol even as the sound of footsteps got closer.
A blur of white appeared at the edge of the house and she turned, finger poised on the trigger to wait on confirmation of friend or foe. Then the hood flew back and her heart beat stopped as she saw who it was.
"I thought you were dead!" Roy exclaimed and rushed over to Riza as she sat with her rifle pointed straight at him. His desire to protect overrode his instinct for self preservation and thankfully she never pulled the trigger unless she was absolutely certain she wanted her target dead. "Are you alright!?"
She turned her eyes to the window as movement caught her eye and re-positioned her sites on….Hughes instead. She finally took a deep breath and her heart resumed pounding. They were both idiots and were getting a lecture on safety protocol even if she was a mere cadet and them officers. Idiots! Both of them!
"Are you hurt?" Roy hit his knees next to her and was shocked when she turned to him in anger.
"What were you thinking!?" She snapped. "I could have killed you!"
Roy sat back on his heels and could hear Hughes laugh from inside the house. He bit his lip and offered the most honest explanation. "I didn't think. I saw you get thrown out that window and…I didn't think. Are you ok?"
Riza stood and flexed a little and nodded. He looked up at her like a scolded dog. She reached out to take his hand and help him up. "Please look after yourself, sir."
Roy took her hand and she yanked him to his feet. He must have given her a look that was way more than friendly because she blushed a little before quickly letting go of his hand. He gave her a smile and nod as she dusted herself off. "I'll try."
Chapter 37: He Is Fast
For a Tumblr Fic Meme prompt : "He is fast!"
He is Fast
The urge was great to just hang up. In fact it was greater to just cut the phone cord. "Yeah Hughes, what do you want?"
"You should come out this weekend! I bought Elicia a new playset for the backyard and I need to put it together! It's going to be so cute! It has a little house and swing set and a rocking horse thing…."
Roy rubbed his eyes. Putting together Elicia's toys was usually fine, until Hughes wanted to take pictures of the whole process and stop production in order to do so. He looked at all his paperwork and just knew it couldn't happen. So he mumbled. "Can't. Busy."
"The only thing that is getting you out of this is if you're getting married."
"Can't. Getting married." Roy replied and hung up. He went back to scratching his name on documents and then looked up after a few minutes of deafening silence. "Why aren't you working?"
"You're getting married?" Kain Fuery whimpered. Was this..the day? The day they had been waiting for?
"No, you need a marriage license for that and unfortunately I don't have time to get one. So, despite my best intentions to get married this weekend, alas beaurocractic bullshit has once again ruined my weekend plans." Roy said and added another paper to the pile of 'done'. "So, on that note, get back to work."
Riza could feel the eyes on her as their boss went back to scribbling his name on paper and she thought she heard a click. She scanned the men at the table and Havoc just smiled at her. "You heard the Colonel, back to work."
"Lunchtime." Breda said and his stomach growled on cue. Before anyone could say anything he was out the door and running down the hall with Fuery's tape recorder in hand. The small device was only usable for a few seconds of recording time, but they had them all on hand for the day Mustang finally screwed up and professed his love for Hawkeye. They ran into the communications room and scared the Sargent on duty there. "Get me Lieutenant Colonel Hughes in Central Command immediately! This is an emergency!"
"He is fast." Hawkeye mumbled as Maes Hughes stood in front of Roy's desk spreading out official marriage paperwork and brandishing a pen. How he got from Central to East City so quickly was probably going to set a new land speed record.
"He is insane and out of line!" Roy snapped and was tugging his glove on to destroy the paperwork on his desk.
"Oh no!" Hughes said. "This is already filed. It's official. It's an application form that needs your signatures and it is now on file that you requested it in City Hall. They have to do background checks and the like, so it helps get the process rolling. I have a judge waiting on you. Your Mom and Riza's grandfather are waiting. So hurry up and sign it so we can turn this into a license and get you kids hitched!"
Roy's eyebrow twitched. It was already filed? An application required names? The government knew about this?! "Lieutenant, what the hell has he done?"
Riza bit her lip. Sure enough, there were their names and military I.D. numbers on an official application for a marriage license. "He never said who he was marrying. Why did you assume it was me?"
Maes just laughed. "I have a little black book too, all the little moments you two have had together."
The book landed on Roy's desk. Roy opened it and saw a page where he mumbled things in his sleep on Maes's couch. Shit!
"No, I have a shelf of these things." Maes cooed.
"We all do." Havoc added.
"Elicia is waiting at the courthouse too." Maes smiled. "She's so excited you're getting married and that she gets to be the flower girl, she forget all about her outside playset. Are you going to tell her you lied? Are you going to disappoint my adorable little girl?"
"He is fast." General Grumman nodded appreciatively as he stood next to Madam Christmas on the steps of the courthouse. "I mean I thought they'd take years to finally think about marriage, agreed to it, and commit to it. Nope, just leave work one day and get married. Real go-getter, your boy."
"Mmm.." Madam Christmas took in a long drag on her cigarette as she watched a little girl throw flowers in Roy Boy's face as he tried to walk his new bride to the car and go on his honeymoon. "Hope they feel the same about grandkids."
Chapter 38: Things Left Unfinished
AN: Another fic meme from Tumblr, ""You know what they say about leaving things unfinished."
Things Left Unfinished
Roy finished piling the last of his clothes into a box along with the few necessities he couldn't move out until after graduation. He left it all until after the ceremony was over, wanting to have one last glimpse of what had been a memorable few years before going to Christmas's Bar for the party. It wasn't sentimentality, he wasn't going to miss the stiff mattress or drafty rooms of the military academy, it was a need to finalize a chapter in his life and reassure himself that he was on the right path. Come Monday he would accept his new orders and prepare to leave for real military life, but right now he was struggling with how much he still needed to do.
The transition from cadet to Lieutenant and life outside these walls wouldn't be as difficult as some of his comrades thought. Some were foolish enough to believe it would be easy, others scared of what assignments would be delivered and he was simply focused on the next step. Wherever he found himself stationed, he still had work to do and that would occupy his thoughts more than anything. Graduation was certainly something he was proud of, but he had always had his sites on State Alchemist certification and until that was achieved he could not feel accomplished.
"Yo! Roy!" Hughes strode into his old room and watched his best friend jump at the intrusion. He walked over and scooped up the box and leaned over to give him a smile. "I know you're going to miss me, but I promise I'll send you a picture to keep under your pillow."
Roy glanced over at the smile and had to sigh. Hughes always knew when he was in need of being dragged out of his deep thoughts. Now wasn't the time to dwell on his failings, it was a time to celebrate his achievement. Still, he had to explain himself. "I couldn't help but think about how far I am from my goal. I thought I'd be able ready to apply for certification by the time I graduated. I…"
"God Roy! You just got commissioned a Lieutenant like an hour ago and you're already thinking about being a Major?" Maes shoved him with his elbow. "You know what they say about leaving things unfinished, don't you?"
Roy frowned. There was no telling where this was going.
"Lots of things left unfinished back at Master Hawkeye's place, you know what I mean?" Hughes said and grinned. "That's what's bothering you. You have plenty of time to work on getting certified, but your training isn't complete yet…right?"
"Well…" Roy followed Hughes out of the room, turning to look at it one last time before shutting off the light. He wouldn't miss it, but he's miss Maes. He knew they'd lose touch, it was just how things went. "He never did teach me flame alchemy."
"Well you should finish up your training." Maes said and gingerly strode down the hall. "Fix that feeling of emptiness you have. Get you a nice shiny pocket watch and you know what else?"
"What?" Roy asked.
"A wife." Hughes said and reached into his pocket to pull out a train ticket. "Here's your graduation present buddy. One way trip out to the middle of nowhere so you can tie up lose ends."
Roy blinked as the ticket emerged over Hughes's shoulder. He was rolling his eyes, pissed he allowed himself to be set up for that 'wife' comment, but then he saw this ticket between Hughes's fingers.
"You know you have to go back. You have to know why you weren't good enough to be the next Flame Alchemist and whether or not you're good enough now." Maes then added. "For her too."
Roy almost slammed into him when he stopped and turned to look at him. He was right. He couldn't move on until he had answers. He could, but it would haunt him. He took the ticket and smiled at Hughes. God he was going to miss him.
"Remember, I'm your best man." Maes winked.
This was not how things were supposed to go. He had the entire train ride to think things through and he was confident he could stand up to Master Hawkeye and demand answers. What he got instead was a bill for the man's funeral.
"I'm sorry." Riza said and looked at the grave where her father now lay.
"Don't apologize. I'm glad I could help." Roy said and looked over at her and remembered Hawkeye's last words. Take care of my daughter. What the hell did that mean? "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to bring on this stress…"
"He's been dying for years. I think he only lasted this long waiting for you to come back." Riza said and folded her hands.
"Oh." Roy said. He should have come sooner? No, he made sure he waited until he graduated to show his dedication and ability to follow through on his decisions. He also didn't want to be swayed by Hawkeye's words and turn his back on the military to chase the dream of alchemy.
"You came here to finish your apprenticeship, didn't you?" Riza asked. "To have him finally teach you flame alchemy?"
"I had hoped he would." Roy said softly. He looked over at her and she quickly looked away with a blush. "I wanted to see you again too."
She turned back to look at him and he was blushing now. "You knew he'd be upset when you joined the military, but you did it anyway. That impressed him."
He looked back at her and she smiled.
"Me too. I'm proud of you." She said and looked back to her father's grave. The man had laid the burden of his life's work on her shoulders and she knew Roy was the one. He had always been the one. "My father's research, what would you have done with it?"
"Protect people." He said. "It's why I joined the military. With his research, with a state certification I could help more people. I'll do the best I can with what I have though."
"I'm glad you didn't change." Riza said and took a deep breath. "If I give you my father's research, you'll use it for this dream of yours? To protect people? I want to believe people can be happy."
Roy looked over at her and nodded. He was about ready to tell her he wanted to make sure she was happy. That her days of living in the shadows of the Flame Alchemist and his life's work were over, but she was already walking away.
"Will you come back to the house with me, Mr. Mustang?" Riza asked and turned to look at him. "I'll give you my father's legacy."
He was shocked into silence. She had his notes? He jogged over to catch up with her and looked over her face. A look of calm and peace was there and he was surprised by that. He shouldn't have been, he knew she was scared of her father and life with him was less than ideal. He wasn't sure if she was relieved to be free of him or that he was finally at peace. Either way, he was glad to see her looking lighter, unburdened. She waited for an answer and he finally snapped out of his stare. "Yes."
"Thank you." She said and walked back to the road. Finally her father's work would be finished and she could move on with her life.
Chapter 39: Promotion
An: Tumblr fic prompts again.
"I haven't worn this since the day I was certified as a State Alchemist." Roy said and looked at himself in the mirror and recalled the days of excitement, optimism and pride; feelings he didn't think he could ever count on feeling again. "Feels like a lifetime ago."
"It was." Riza said and frowned as she realized how loose the dress jacket was on him. It was snug in the shoulders but far from it in the rest of the body. He managed to modify the pants on his own, clearly not wanting to worry her about his weight loss, but she had seen the chalk remains on the pants before he could brush them off. He had to ask for her help with the jacket, he couldn't make adjustments himself and there was too little time to have it tailored.
Roy could feel her hands running over his back and sides, trying to place pins where it would take up some of the extra material without looking unprofessional. "Thank you for you help."
She smiled as he looked over his shoulder at her and she squeezed his arm. "I told you I would help you in any way I could. I didn't expect you to ask me to be your seamstress."
He looked in the mirror again. He wanted to ask her to be so much more than that but it was very clear that this path they took wouldn't allow for more. He ran his hand through his hair and down to rub his neck, a habit he knew he had to stop. It was a tell of his anxious thoughts, an indicator of his discomfort. He was going to have to work on being more stoic. Cold. Focused. Especially to protect her.
"If you would just hold still…" Riza was tempted to stab him with a pin. "I'd be done already."
"Sorry." He dropped his hand down and quit moving.
"You should be happy." She said even though she knew his reasons for being so distraught over his promotion. She said it not as a statement of reprimand, but as a reminder of what this meant to his goals. She saw in his clenched jaw how he was struggling to remind himself of that. "You were the youngest alchemist to ever be certified, a hero of the war and now being promoted to one of the youngest Lieutenant Colonels in the army. Remember that. It means you will be scrutinized."
"At the cost of how many lives? Seven years of war killed so many officers and in one year I killed…"
She finally stabbed him with the pin. "Roy. We both bear that burden. I know you will never forget it, but our only salvation is your climb to the top and this is a major first step."
"Riza…" He turned to her and she looked up at him with knowing eyes. There was no reason to rehash all the pain and events that had marred their lives. She was right, he needed to bury those thoughts until nobody was looking. He had a goal, something that was their only redemption, and he needed to focus on that. She would remind him of that and it was why he needed her by his side. They could hold each other up. But something else was bothering him. "Hughes is getting his uniform altered for his promotion to Major but also for his wedding."
She looked at him and he swallowed hard and she could see him open his mouth as he struggled to find the right words. "We can't."
"I still want to." He said softly. "I always thought that the next official ceremony I wore this to would be…well I thought I would see you again under different circumstances. This is not how I ever wanted to ask you to be by my side. I wanted us to be happy. I wanted to make you happy."
She leaned up and placed a light kiss on his lips. "With you at my side, I can't think of a reason to be unhappy with this arrangement. I don't need a wedding or a certificate, I don't need a ring or your last name to love you. I want to be beside you, but I won't compromise and be left at home and leave you to do this on your own. This is our journey. Stop apologizing. We have made this decision together."
"You deserve the world and all I can give you is…"
"A better one." She said. "We're going to fix it. That is the only way we can make things right. So turn around and stop moving so I can fix this jacket."
"Thank you." He said and kissed her. She stabbed him with a pin to tell him that there was more important business right now and he smiled at that. She'd keep him in line and that was definitely what he needed.
Chapter 40: Pretend
Tumblr fic prompts: (# 6 Explain it to me again -why do we need to pretend to be married?" #7:"In my defense, I thought this would go a lot more smoothly.")
"Explain to me again..." Riza took a deep breath as they stood on the platform in front of several hundred hotel guests. "Why do we need to pretend to be married?"
Roy could feel the frustration emanating from her before she said anything. This was entirely his fault. "In my defense, I thought this would go a lot more smoothly."
Riza didn't doubt that. He thought he could have a little bit of fun and take care of this mission all in one swift move. However, Roy didn't count on the hotel staff following through on their advertised treatment of guests and that was quickly shown to be the major flaw in his plan. She looked out into the crowd as Havoc tried not to laugh and Breda purchased photo packages from the hotel photographer. Not only was the mission probably blown, but this was going to be very difficult to destroy evidence of this debacle.
Roy bit his lip as the hotel event coordinator made a speech about the newlyweds and how the Hotel Harrington was going to assist in celebrating the new couple's nuptials. The town of Harrington was renowned for celebrating odd holidays and it was a main reason for the profitable tourism business. They had a day in February where they worshiped a giant rodent they believed could predict the weather. They had festivals weekly for everything from oatmeal to fungus. They celebrated everything. They also had a lot of thieves that preyed on the tourists and it was his idea to capture them by posing as a vacationing couple: Newlyweds. It would be a great cover, they would be an easy target. He just didn't realize the hotel staff would be the one singling them out.
"And please welcome our newest guests from East City! They just got married!" The hotel lady yelled to the people gathered around the pool.
Riza looked over at him as the crowd of guests awwwwed and clapped. "Excellent, you told them where we were from."
"Riza the best lies are based in truth." Roy countered and braced himself for the announcement of their names.
"The Hayates!" She announced and the guests held up drinks and screamed.
Riza faked a smile as he reached for her hand as the crowd roared. Except for Havoc who was roaring with laughter and not joy. "Really? Did you tell them our 'son' was staying with his great grandfather too?"
"No, I maybe hinted we were trying to start a family though." Roy grinned and almost screamed when she tightened her grip on his hand. "What? If we disappear from the pool and go to our room I don't want to be disturbed! Ouch! Not like that! For the mission!"
"This is going in the local paper. There will be pictures." She hissed and they walked on stage and waved at the guests who wanted to celebrate their marriage with them. "A paper your best friend will be reading as part of his job tomorrow morning. The evening edition will be in Central by morning."
"These people just want to party." Roy said and blinked as a dozen camera flashes almost blinded him. "I'll have the men steal the film."
"Excellent. We come to stop a theft ring and end up starting our own." Riza mumbled.
"Maybe a little competition might flush them out." Roy said and wrapped his arm around her shoulder and gave her a kiss on the cheek. "They are good at evading local police and will be suspicious of anyone asking questions and scoping out the place. However if we are a threat and are actually here to put a dent in their profits...well that puts them at the disadvantage. Great idea, Lieutenant."
"Smile for the camera, dear." Riza said as she turned to see Breda had purchased his own camera to chronicle the 'honeymoon'. He'd be quick to drop his film in the mail and get it out of town before they could stop him. There was a possibility they would be robbing the post office or a train tonight.
Roy turned and flashed a 'I'm going to make you pay for this later' grin as the camera went off. "So...remember that one time I ordered Fullmetal to get on a train and he managed to flood it and destroy several train cars?"
"Let's go back to our room right now and get him on that train." She said and smiled for the lady who came up and put flower crown on her to help denote her as a new bride. Roy got a necklace that looked like it was charm of some sort.
"It's a fertility necklace." The hotel lady told them. "Free with a one week stay in our honeymoon suite! A $800 Cenz value! We sell out every year at the festival."
Roy was going to ask what festival that was but then Breda's camera flash went off and he heard joyous giggling as the man disappeared into the crowd and Havoc bellowed with laughter. He couldn't believe he was actually hoping Ed would cause a maximum amount of damage on his visit, hopefully leveling the town and destroying all transportation and communications out of this place.
"Let's go try it out." Riza said and yanked him by the hand back into the hotel as the guests cheered and Havoc screamed, "Ride him Riza! Yeehaw! Whip his ass!"
Chapter 41: Pirate AU
A combination of Tumblr fic requests and also a little role reversal AU. I think I'm all caught up on getting my backlog of drabbles, sorry for the lack of updates!
Roy clenched his butt cheeks as another patron pinched his ass while he pushed through the crowded tavern to get back to the bar. Several ships had come into port and their first stop was Christmas's for grog and women, not necessarily in that order. Some were pirates, others merchants and some a vaguely labeled privateer that could denote either affiliation. The one overwhelming thing they had in common was that they stank, a smell so putrid that it made the smell of dead fish in the harbor pale in comparison; the second thing was that they all had been paid and were looking to spend that money as quickly as they could.
His ass was grabbed yet again, this time a whole hand squeeze. He was used to it, these rowdy and horny assholes took advantage of the fact that his hands were occupied with two trays of empty mugs. He slid all the mugs into a soapy tub and then placed the trays on the bar before quickly washing them and handing them to his foster mother who rinsed them off. The new order of mugs hadn't arrived yet, rumor was that the merchant ship had been attacked by pirates, so they were having to make do with the ones they had.
He heard the sound of glass shattering and closed his eyes. These idiots needed to lap the booze out of bowls like dogs to stop them from damaging shit.
"You have a hand print on your ass." Madam Christmas informed her son who rolled his eyes in annoyance. "Grease."
That was wonderful. Near impossible to get that out of his trousers. He could remember the days when Amestris was a port of call for the Royal Navy, when there was law abiding citizens and shopkeeps and it was a ordinary town. Then the war started, a rebellion, and the King lost control of the Eastern region and with it Amestris. There was a pang of pain with his memories that weren't associated with the change of control, because he had watched someone he cared for sail off in a last ditch effort to restore the power of Fort Briggs and with it the peace Amestris once knew.
"Go change, I got this for a while." Chris could see him wearing down, her boy who she wished could have moved on to greater things. Instead, here he was, beside her serving a crowd of worthless pirates as they spent every last coin they made on sex and booze. It was a lucrative business, but the captains controlled the trade market and inflation was at an all time high. Still, it was home and she built this place herself, she just wished that Roy wasn't chained it it like she was.
"Thanks." He said with an appreciative smile and wiped his hands off on a rag. He needed a reason to get out of this loud over-filled building anyhow, especially when Vanessa belted out a fake orgasm from upstairs that sounded like an opera aria. The sailors clinked glasses, hooted and hollered and more shattered glass hit the worn oak floor. He took a deep breath and his mother reached for another cigarette to calm herself.
Roy slipped into the back room and closed the door. It served as their living area and a storeroom as square footage was at a premium in the tavern for patrons. He found his way into the old pantry where he had his bed and found a pair of pants. He dropped his pants and slowly picked them up, afraid to look at the damage. Sure enough, there was a perfect hand print on the back, black grease permanently ingrained in the fabric. He growled and threw them in the corner, there was no point in trying to get them clean. He redressed and threw on a jacket, he needed a quick walk to clear his head and his sinuses.
He picked up an old pistol in case he ran into trouble and then left through the back door. It was early so the alley wasn't being utilized by some drunk or street worker yet. He looked up as rain hit his face and jumped a puddle to get to the main street. There were gunshots and a scream, laughing and the sounds of a fight and dogs barking as some tone deaf fool tried to sing a sea shanty. He walked towards the harbor knowing that these men would be as far away from their ships as possible after spending months contained in their hulls.
The noise died down as he approached the docks and a light fog covered the area. The rowdiness was replaced with sounds of business as ships were repaired, cargo unloaded and merchants argued over prices. Once upon a time he used to come down here with a light in his eyes, looking at a promising future, but now all he saw was the shambles of what used to be. Without the government controlling the town, maintenance had gone to the wayside and setting foot on the wooden planks was best done with caution or a good memory for where missing or weak boards were. Ironic that men who had been out at sea for so long would come to port and drown in the shallow waters after spending their pay in town. There were kids who made a living off it though, swimming under the docks and picking the pockets of the sea's latest victims. Scavengers, all of them, and they stank like a dead vulture to boot .
He stopped before he went too far and stared out into the foggy harbor. He could see lights from the ships as they went on preparing for another voyage and took a deep breath of the sea air. He let his mind wander again, a vision of a bright and sunny day two years ago flooded his memories again. The day he watched the Hawkeyes board a ship that would transport them to Briggs to repair the cannons that had been spiked by rebels. He had been studying under Berthold Hawkeye at his foundry in town, an apprentice to the best cannon maker in the country. Hawkeye was working on innovative new designs, had his own gunpowder mixes and created new projectiles to be shot. He was an artisan, a master of his trade, and Roy had been fortunate to secure a position with him at all. He thought it would be his ticket out of here, but his apprenticeship never amounted to more than just cheap labor for Hawkeye; The master kept his alloys and formulas a secret even if the methods used to make the cannons and ammunition were standard practice. He could very well go back to the foundry and start making weapons, but he wasn't interested in providing that service to the clientele in Amestris these days.
It wasn't the old days that he really was pining for, it was a girl. If he was going to be honest with himself, the memories he dwelled on most always featured a beautiful blond. The future he really felt he was robbed of, was with her.
He looked up at the sky and let the rain beat down on his face. Hawkeye left to repair the guns at Briggs, but their ship was intercepted and never made it. Briggs fell. Rumor had it that the ship was captured by pirates, others said it was sunk. The real reason he stayed in Amestris was because there was information that would trickle through here about a woman who was on one of the ships. A rarity since women were considered bad luck. A blond woman, with a shot that never missed it's target. Rumors, stories told by men who wouldn't recognize the truth if it kicked their teeth in, that was all they were.
He titled his head down as the rain came down harder. It was time to go back to work. He trudged back to the tavern, hands in his pockets and wondered how long he was going to wait. It was like he was mourning a lost love, and he never even told her he loved her. They kissed, they talked of a future and the foolish dreams they had, and he waited for Hawkeye to find him worthy of his secrets and his daughter. Then, they were gone. He understand why pirates lived for the moment, because there was never a guarantee of tomorrow.
He walked into the alley and stepped over a man who was either unconscious or dead, shoes already stolen. He unlocked the back door, went inside and bolted it again, the noise of the bar assaulted his eardrums. He threw his coat on the peg, grabbed a towel to dry off his hair and then went back to work. Time for dreams was over. It was ten minutes of usual business and then the tavern quieted down. A hush passed over the men that only happened when they were confronted by someone with presence or reputation that they respected. Roy made his way back to the bar, he wanted to be close to the guns under if it something went down. Famous pirates respected no rules.
"I'm looking for Roy Mustang."
He froze. The voice, he knew that voice. He turned around as the men parted as a woman came to the bar. He wondered if maybe his mother had taken to smoking something a little more potent than tobacco because he could not believe his own eyes. "Riza?"
"Captain Hawkeye." said a man who approached the bar beside her with a cigarette between his lips. "Give the lady the respect she is due, please."
Roy blinked. She grew up. A lot. He couldn't help but ask his mother. "Are you seeing this too?"
"Yes, Roy Boy, I definitely am." She said and pushed him closer to the girl he thought he lost. The girl who was now a very striking young woman with a title, a pair of guns on her hip and at her side. Damn, she hoped the smoking hot blond with gorgeous blue eyes wasn't her current flame. "It's about damned time."
She wore a frock coat of blue, tailored and trimmed with gold. Her hair was longer, done up with a silver clip and she had the earrings he had made for her at the foundry. Around her waist were guns and a sword. She looked...like a pirate. "Captain?"
Riza put her hands on the bar. "I had to see you again."
He was elated by the words, but there was a way she said it that quickly killed the mood. Like there was a 'but' lingering at the end, one that would crush his heart and dreams all at once. She no longer looked like the innocent youth that left, but of a battle hardened women.
"To let you know that I was safe and alive. To let you know what happened." Riza said. Havoc was beside her and gave a few challenging looks to patrons who wanted to come close to eavesdrop. He got a wink from the older woman behind the bar.
Roy stood there in disbelief. They had been in love. This was not the homecoming he had imagined. This was all business.
"Our ship was attacked by pirates. They took us hostage and Father died of his sickness." She said. "I was traded off."
He felt his heart ache, he knew what that meant. He should have been there on that ship with Hawkeye, he was his apprentice. Damn him!
"No, nothing happened." She said as soon as she saw his face. "I killed their captain, I wasn't going to be taken advantage of like that. The ship was attacked by the same pirates that had traded me to them and I participated in the fight. The quartermaster allowed me to stay on as part of the crew when he took over as captain. I worked as the gunner's mate due to my father's reputation. Eventually moved up to Master gunner. Eventually...mutinied and took over the ship."
"You're a pirate?" Roy whispered and the man she came in with smiled.
"The best!" Jean Havoc said and winked. "And we prefer privateers, we have higher standards."
All these years he had worried she was dead or captured and it turned out that she was actually working her way up the chain of command on a pirate ship? She wasn't the damsel in distress but the hero! He was proud and amazed and just...overwhelmed.
"I have a few salvaged guns from Fort Briggs that were damaged during the battle and left behind." She said and leaned on the bar. "Do you think you can get the foundry up and running? Melt these down and recast them?"
Roy leaned on the bar, close to her and was glad she smelled much better than the rest of the sailors in here. She smelled much better than him too. He gazed into her beautiful brown eyes and saw a determined woman, one here to ask him to do a job not return to the boy she left behind. He was proud of her even if he feared that she had moved on and didn't want him anymore. He thought about her request and looked her over, then to the man beside her. They were more refined, more disciplined, than any other person in here. They reminded him of the naval officers who used to frequent the bar. These were not pirates, they had a purpose beyond just money. He whispered, "Are you going to seize Briggs and restore order to the East?"
She always loved how perceptive he was. He could pick up on what she said or what she didn't say, it was good to see that didn't change. She needed to see he was the man she remembered, the man with integrity. "Yes."
"We will have to do some work to the place, scavengers have picked over the foundry and some have tried to put it back into use. It's...rough, but I can get it going again." He assured her and felt himself renewed with a greater purpose.
"Then take the night off kid." Madam Christmas elbowed him.
Roy didn't hesitate to go get his jacket and then come back into the bar and follow Riza and her friend out into the streets. He was overwhelmed, thought this was just a dream, but he was going to make this dream last as long as he could. They got well past Main Street before he spoke again. "Are you going to stay for a little while?"
"I have a few repairs that need to be done to our ship, so a few days." She said and heard Havoc grunt beside her.
"Then I better see if that hotel has any rooms." Havoc gave her a wave of his hand and a wink before wandering over to a corner building advertising rooms for rent. It would be nice to have a real bed for a few days, nice to give them some privacy too.
"That's a brothel." Roy informed him.
"Well hopefully they rent rooms for more than just an hour." Havoc replied and waved to him. "I have standards and stamina."
Roy realized the man was doing his best to leave him alone with his Captain. He kept walking towards her father's old shop and the dilapidated old house that she used to live in. "I'm glad you're alive. I've gone back and forth between blaming myself for not going with him to Briggs in your place and also being glad you didn't stay here to see what it became."
"He insisted you stay." She reminded him. Her father intended to have Roy keep the foundry going in case he needed to send work back to the town.
"Still..." He stopped and turned to look at her forgetting what he was going to say. She had been busy rising to the top and taking control of a damned pirate ship, then decided to use it to restore order back to their part of the country. What had he done? How was he even worth of her? "Please, let me help you. If you just need me to restore cannons, than I'll do that. If you need me for anything else...I...Riza..."
She stepped forward and kissed him. She wanted to feel him again, his warmth and touch, the feeling of his arms slowly wrapping around her as they kissed. The rain has soaked her coat and hair and it didn't matter. He stirred a warmth in her that chased away the damp and chill, a warmth she wanted to bask in. "I missed you. I wanted to tell you I was alive but I didn't want to put you at risk. You would have tried to find me and I had a job to do. I hoped that you moved on, that you got out of here."
"I don't want to get in the way of that." He said and kissed her again. "But I don't want to lose you again."
"Will you come with me?" She asked. "Will you follow me?"
"Even into hell." He said and kissed her again and she laughed a little, that beautiful laugh he never thought he would hear again.
"No, I meant as your Captain." She said.
"It depends." He said and watched her face show a hint of disappointment. "Are there fraternization rules on your ship?"
"That is not one of the ship's articles." She said and he pulled her into his embrace even tighter.
"Where do I sign?" He asked. "If you want I can get a referral letter from a business woman in town that states I am good at taking orders from the women in my life."
"It's a different life Roy." She said. "A life that...is different from the one we enjoyed under rule of the King. It's a free life, democratic rule and one with high risks. It's also very wet."
"Where do I sign?" He asked again and felt her hand on his cheek. "Are you grabbing my ass? Pirates and their fixation on booty, dammit!"
"There are rumors in port that you have a very nice ass." She whispered and laughed as he returned the favor. " I was wondering if you were in shape to be a member of my crew."
"Let's see about fixing your guns." He said and placed another kiss on her lips. "Get a fire going so we can see what shape the foundry is in and maybe dry off our clothes. Tell me more about this job you're offering."
"I'm not the girl you remember Roy. I've seen the world beyond this town and our simple dreams of people being happy just can't come without a cost. This war has only just begun and I need to see it to the end or die trying. I have done some things that are irredeemable all in the name of this cause. This is my life now. If you follow me, you have to understand that."
"I'm coming with you." He said as the rain blurred his vision. He cursed it for getting between them, just like life had. "Because there is someone I have to protect."
"What if you don't like what you see?" She said.
"I don't like what I see." He replied and looked down the street to the town. "Amestris needs to be saved. I'm willing to give my life to see that happen."
"What if...you don't like what you see in me?" She asked. "I'm not naive anymore. I have blood on my hands that doesn't wash off. Roy...I gave up on seeing you again. After realizing what I had become I didn't want you to be disappointed in what you saw. "
"I'm not going to fault you for leaving and choosing your own path. It wasn't the journey you thought it would be, but you survived." He gave her a smile. "Riza you are a captain of a ship. You command respect from these men who won't allow a woman on board because they think she is bad luck. Those men got out of your way in the tavern, you silenced them with just your presence."
"They fear me." She said. "My father gave me his secrets before he died and I used them. I modified our powder and projectiles to be more ruthless and damaging than these men could ever comprehend. They fear what I have at my fingertips and the lengths I will go to protect those I care for."
"Then I'm here to protect you from yourself if you're going to hate yourself for what you have done." He said and brushed away some wet hair from her face. "As a friend if need be."
"To keep you safe, nobody can know about us." She said. "You have to be a subordinate. You have to be nothing more than the master of the guns I give you. "
"I'm here for you in whatever role you need me to be." He said and could see she was struggling more with the thought of putting him in danger than anything. "I can't lose you again."
She gave him another kiss and felt that warmth stir in her that only he could bring. She didn't know if it was real, if it was just nostalgia or denial rekindling a memory of something innocent from the past, but it felt so damned good. It made her feel human and she knew why she really came here for him. "If you sign on, you have to watch my back. Make sure I don't go too far. Stop me if I do. The taste of this life, of people determining their own fate has ruined me. I'm not restoring Briggs for the King...I'm taking it from him to made a better world for everyone. No more military rule under Bradley, no more chaos under the pirates. I choose neither because this life has shown me that it is possible."
"Sounds like you still have that silly little dream of people being happy in this world." He said. "I'd like to see this world of yours."
"Let's get out of the rain."
"Yes, sir." He replied and she gave him a smirk.
Chapter 42: Just What We Needed
For a Tumblr fic meme response, "I swear it was an accident"
Just What We Need
Roy tried to keep his pen moving as he sat at his desk and listened as Riza moved around the apartment. He heard Hayate's collar jingle as he followed her around as he was also concerned by her behavior. She had been a little withdrawn these part few days, it was something that happened to both of them here in Ishval often enough, but this was something more. He tried to give her space, if she wanted him to be part of he solution she would have let him know already. What worried him the most was the possibility that she was so anxious because it had to do with him. Finally the footsteps stopped and he turned to look at her standing beside him ready to report. It was something so difficult that she had to work herself back into professional form to come to tell him what had been worrying her. That scared him. "What's been bothering you?"
"I..." Riza watched a hand reach out for hers and slowly wrap around her fingers. Silent encouragement. His face begged her to continue, he was beyond worried. "I swear it was an accident."
Had she accidentally washed his little black book of notes again? Really, they had been through this. It was his fault if he couldn't figure out how to take things out of his pockets prior to putting them in the laundry hamper.
The words were stuck in her throat and a gentle squeeze of his hand coaxed them from her lips. "I'm...pregnant."
"What?" He asked, he must have heard her wrong. Like that one time she said she home with chills and he thought she said she was 'with child'. That was a debacle. A shrink would have had a field day with that.
"I know we just talked about this." She said and Hayate inched closer to her side to lend support as Roy sat there confused. They had just talked about this. Ed's pictures of his kids came in the mail and they had talked about how he was turning into Hughes. Then the conversation took some turns and they talked about Hughes and Ishval, and how damned much Roy still missed him. Then to how they thought their lives were going to be different and they both had to admit that the war had taken those lives from them too. How they still were hollow inside, how they were without options that everyone else around them seemed to have. And then the question, because he would never deny her anything, asking if she wanted kids. She saw that spark of hope in his eyes and she had just said, 'I took lives, I don't get to make them.' It was evasive, they both knew it, but it was a way to stop them from walking down that painful path of questions together. Yet, a month later, here she was...
"You're pregnant?" He asked for clarification. Was there anything that rhymed with pregnant? Was there?
"Yes. I'm sorry." She said and closed her eyes.
He leapt to his feet. "This isn't your fault I...please don't say sorry."
"This ruins everything." She said and was pulled into his embrace but just sank into his chest.
"I almost lost you." He said and squeezed. "That would have ruined everything. This is...I don't think there is a word for it."
"Incredible." He said and hugged her tighter. They stood there for what seemed like hours until he was able to start thinking again. "We've conquered the greatest hurdles on the way to the top Riza, but we still haven't really conquered our own greatest fears. It's really easy to sacrifice ourselves for a cause, I've made a lot of stupid decisions based on the feeling that I deserved the pain or that I really was expendable. It was selfish, not like Hughes who selflessly lost his life to protect his family. I didn't value my life that much. This changes things."
"We just talked about this."
"No we avoided talking about this. Like we always do. Because it's easier than hurting each other, letting each other down because we can't compromise and make it happen." He sighed. "Instead of admitting that I always saw us with a different future and that my mistakes destroyed that for us, we just keep repeating that we don't deserve this. This is our penance. This is our grave that we dug. It's been easy to do it to myself but it kills me to know I did it to you."
"I made you." She whispered. "If I held back that information you would have never been the Flame Alchemist. I chose you and it destroyed you."
"It's done, we're defined by our actions. You gave me the information but I used it..." He stepped back and took a deep breath. "Dammit we've done this so many times. We tear ourselves up in this competition for blame and just drag ourselves deeper into this hell we want to suffer in. This time, it's not about us. We have the chance to give life instead of take it. We can't bring back the dead but we can try to breathe life back into this country with this reconstruction effort, then by going on to the Fuhrer's position. We made a life together, you and me, and now to rise to the occasion we have do better. We made another life...that's terrifying and selfish and...amazing."
"I have no idea what to say!" He said. "We're having a baby?"
"Yes." She said and he actually smiled. Genuine joy for a split second before his overactive brain took over.
"This is just like when you took the dog for your own." Roy said. "You were so happy, then you felt guilty because you thought you wouldn't have time for him. You said you were doing it to give him a home, but you wanted him, I saw that on your face when you hugged him for the first time."
Riza looked down at Hayate who just wagged his tail at her. "This is nothing like getting a puppy Roy. Not even close."
"I have no idea what to do!" Roy replied. "I'm going to be a father!"
"I should call Ed and wake his stupid ass up and scream in his ear about it!" Roy said.
"Roy!" She snapped and he immediately responded by looking at her like a scolded dog. "We need to sit down and talk about this. All of it. What it means for your goals, what it means for us...what it means for a child we bring into this world. We have to talk this through."
"You're saying that we...have options." He said as it dawned on him that she was so worked up because she wasn't making an announcement, she was struggling with a decision.
She didn't answer. She didn't want to openly say that it was an option to not have the baby. Doing so conjured up painful memories of her hands cradling a dead Ishvalian child as she laid it to rest in a shallow grave. It was choosing death over life again because it was easier than questioning things.
"No." He said and shook his head. He knew how she thought and this wasn't a question of whether or not they had a child but if a child would get in the way of what they had to do. "No more sacrifices on this journey, no more. We find a way to make things work, no one else is dying. We can sacrifice as much as we want, but when it comes to the life of someone else that is the exact reason we are on this path. So no, because you have yet to say anything but sorry for the situation this puts us in and not 'sorry, but I don't want this'."
"We didn't want this."
"To actively make the decision to have a family, no...we didn't want that. However our lives have been about the people who have become our family. How our team, the Elrics, Hughes...all of them became our family even though we didn't want that to happen. It did. We protected them and helped them and they went their different ways. It is selfish, probably, but damn us if we can't give our all to someone who needs us...then who are we to say we should be the ones to fix the country?"
"I'm scared." She admitted. "Of failure. Of making us vulnerable. Of ruining you. Of ruining...our kid."
"That's the right response I think." He admitted. "I have no confidence in my ability to do this, I am really bad with kids. God, am I bad with kids. But it means I have to be a better man to be a father and maybe that's the self-control I needed all along. To analyze my decisions instead of act and accepting the consequences myself. I don't know, all I know is that the world is upside down right now and it's not necessarily a bad thing. So let's talk about this. Every detail, everything we can think of. Like we used to before we just agreed to some predetermined path we had to march down to find redemption. Let's talk about this without all our baggage and ghosts because there is a innocent life in the balance. Yeah, our mistake I guess, but let's not follow it up with another. I think we've done that enough."
"I'll make some coffee." She said and turned to go to the kitchen. Coffee was probably not good for a baby. "Or maybe just some herbal tea."
Roy nodded as a she slipped out of his embrace and gave him a smile. It was a comforting smile, one that told him that what he had said had made a difference already. Clearly things were already starting to change as that herbal tea wasn't going to help them stay up and talk tonight.
Chapter 43: I Almost Lost You
AN: Another Tumblr request, this time for "I almost lost you"
I Almost Lost You
"Lieutenant, I think there is an intruder in our room creeping towards my bed."
Riza barely made it two steps. She didn't make a sound getting out of bed which was no easy task considering the amount of moving parts on this hospital bed. The worst part was she didn't know if it was his other senses compensating for his lack of sight or his normal acute awareness of her position in relation to him. She just gave up on being stealthy and walked over to his bed. "Scared? Do you want me to hold your hand?"
"Hands are skewered." Roy held them both up to show off. "Maybe you should try holding something else?"
She saw that smirk of his even in the dark hospital room. It made her feel confident that things were going to be OK, that somehow despite the overwhelming odds now against him, that they would overcome this. She reached up and brushed his hair from his face and he leaned into her touch. Making sense of everything in the calm after the storm of the Promised Day was testing all of them. "I'm scared."
Roy could feel the change immediately, the time for playful banter was over. He threw the sheet off him and moved over, inviting her into his bed. "Then let me hold you."
"Someone could see us." She whispered and he tugged on her hand.
"Riza, we're sharing the same hospital room." he pulled her down towards him, "We spent half the promised day holding each other. I think our cover is blown."
She didn't fight him and just crawled into bed and enjoyed the feeling of him wrapped around her. "That was only a handful of people."
"You fondled me." He whispered and felt his grin spread across his face. "In the middle of Central Command."
She had to laugh as she pulled the sheet over her and cuddled up against him. They settled into a comfortable spot and she listened to him breathe for a while and enjoyed his warmth. "I almost lost you."
"I almost lost you." He said. "Lost your faith in me. Lost myself. Lost you because this whole damned world sees how much you mean to me and made you a target. I almost lost you because I wouldn't do something I had considered doing for others. I'd be lost without you."
She ran her hand over his forearm, not wanting to disturb the bandages but needing to pet something. "I'm scared that you still sacrificed something too great, even if you were forced to do it. I'm worried about what you did lose."
"I was willing to offer up my life to pay for what I had done." He said softly. "I watched you bleed out and I thought that was my punishment. I would have traded places with you but...you meant so much more to me. To watch you leave me and still have to carry on without you...cruel punishment befitting my cruel deeds. And you forbid me to do the forbidden and save you. I would have given myself up for you."
"I'll take this instead, losing my vision. I can carry on with anything as long as you're by my side. I just can't lose you." He kissed her skin above the bandage on her neck. "A small price."
"I'm still scared." She said. "I watched you disappear and I don't want to see that again. Disappear from work. From the plan we had. Disappear and turn into an alchemist who has nothing but his alchemy to work with. I know you Roy, I know how you thrive on being mentally engaged on so many levels that it would make a normal person's head hurt just thinking about it. So I'm scared, because I don't know how I can be your eyes when you saw so much more than I did."
"I'll miss seeing you the most. The rest of it just pales in comparison to you." He whispered and kissed her again.
He wasn't just being romantic, he was being honest. She could hear it in his voice. That sad twinge, the reality of what he was losing. "I'm not going anywhere. Get some rest, I'll have to go back to my own bed before morning rounds."
He hummed his acknowledgment and hugged her tighter. He clung to her physically and the memories of her mentally. His anchor in this world, always.
Chapter 44: The World Isn't Perfect
AN: Had this idea floating around for a while, the 'end of 03 transition of apple picking Roy into the arctic hermit Roy of CoS'. And I kinda want to play with the color differences of the two, but also the idea that the energy for alchemy connects the two worlds...and apparently forget I haven't watched CoS in forever and don't remember shit to write this. So I filled it in with sadness and longing.
The World isn't Perfect
It had been a miracle that he survived, but as time passed she saw it as less of a blessing. Roy Mustang was slipping away from her and it would have been less cruel to lose him on those steps of the Fuhrer's mansion. It was finally the day she knew was coming, the day he turned in his resignation and left the military for good.
He survived the worst of it, the loss of his eye and the investigation into his part of the Fuhrer's murder. He even managed to keep going after Ed's funeral, but he started to crack after that. She wanted to remain loyal to him, she wanted to believe that what he was seeing was genuine but even she couldn't ignore what was happening. Mustang was having a mental breakdown and what he was saying was nothing short of insane. It was up to her to tell him before someone else did, because if the military suspected a man of his rank and capabilities was losing his mind it would mean evaluation and admittance into a facility he'd never return from. People feared him and it would take nothing to justify incarcerating the Flame Alchemist for his 'own safety'.
She stood as she heard the door open and Mustang emerged alone, but different. Free. Unburdened by rank and responsibility. He walked up to her and she saw it in his face, but his eyes betrayed his fears. He was lost now. A soldier his entire adult life, to leave it all behind would be a struggle. To leave everything behind, his goals...would be devastating. "Gen.."
Roy raised his hand. "Mister Mustang now, Lieutenant."
It hurt hearing it from his own mouth, watching him run his wet palms over his trousers feeling for a watch that wasn't there anymore. This was real. "Sir."
"Maybe there really is something to letting the dog off his chain, Lieutenant." Roy said softly, he didn't want her to feel like she did anything but the right thing. She was right, he'd never pass the psychiatric evaluation this year as there were too many reports of him acting oddly to refute. He had to spin this as a positive, he couldn't let her march in there and quit too because he needed a babysitter. "Fullmetal was free to roam the country looking for answers and I can't do that with everyone watching my every move. This is a tactical move."
She nodded and he gave her a smile. She knew the look of goodbye, he wasn't planning to be here when the workday was over and the news had spread. He wasn't going to be home when she got there and he didn't want to be followed. She wanted to tell him he wasn't crazy, but neither of them believed that. He was now just an alchemist seeking truth again and he needed answers to find out who he was again. She felt tears rolling down her cheek as she realized this was goodbye.
"Make sure you spoil that dog of yours every once in a while." Roy said and winked. "For me."
He walked away and she listened to his footfalls echo as he left Central Command, left his career, left them. She wanted to walk him out to ask him to let them help, but this was not her choice to make. She had work to do and now she was in charge of the office. None of them could afford any more marks on their records and when Mustang returned he would need them.
Then he was gone and she spun on her heels to walk in the opposite direction as him and go back to the office. She knew tears were streaking down her face and there would be no hiding it. She'd open the doors and Havoc would be the first to see her, quickly extinguishing a cigarette to come over and find out why she was crying. Breda would want to know why Mustang wasn't with her. Fuery would clutch Hayate, knowing there was bad news. Falman would mentally be cataloging all the infractions that had to be stacking up against Mustang, mentally calculating if it was enough to result in more serious punishments than termination of employment.
And Roy Mustang would be gone.
It was the worst retirement party they had ever been too. The honored guest wasn't there and they were all drinking to forget, not to celebrate. However it was the only place they could safely talk. Breda was the first to speak, he knew they were all enjoying the denial and ignorance of the matter and it would have to stop. Mustang was not coming through that door and they needed to find out why. "Does this have to do with the things he's been seeing?"
Riza felt their eyes on her. "Yes. The Gen...Mustang could only describe them as a vision of another world and Ed was alive there."
"That..." Falman refrained from reciting psychological terms and instead cleared his throat and nodded, "Would have raised some red flags when he had to explain those reports."
"What reports?" Fuery asked. "We never said anything."
"The soldiers who accompanied us, however, were probably all too eager to gossip about the famous Flame Alchemist and his crazy visions." Havoc shook his head. "Shit, he's lucky they didn't just lock him up like Kimblee."
"So what exactly was he seeing?" Breda asked. "We never asked, we just tried to manage the situation."
"He described it as...almost an apparition. Every time he used his alchemy, he could see just this dull version of Ed." Riza wasn't even sure how to explain it. Mustang didn't know either. "The first time was on street when we captured those bank robbers. He used his alchemy to provide a barrier to prevent the escape of those men and after he saw Ed standing on the sidewalk...shopping."
"Yeah, I remember him staring off like he saw a ghost." Havoc said and tapped his cigarette ash into the ray. "So that time in the warehouse, he was just staring into the corner?"
"He saw him again." Riza nodded. "All the instances we all wrote off as his medication or shock...he saw Ed. This dull and alive figure of him, existing somewhere else. He sees the same location, different people and clothing. Ed doesn't have automail. He doesn't see us."
"Shit." Breda rubbed his head. "This sounds awful."
"Which is why he resigned today instead of try to explain it." Riza tapped her fingers on her drink and signed. "Because he can't rationalize it himself and he needs answers. He knows what he sees even if it's impossible."
Havoc nodded. "Well, we just do what we can to keep the damage of the rumors down to a minimum. Better if they think he knocked up some nurse and resigned because of the scandal than that he's some insane alchemist roaming free."
Riza nodded. Mustang left a note for her in Hayate's biscuit box, a post office box where she could send correspondence if need be. She'd tell him they had this under control and when the rumors died down. Then he'd be free to look for the truth and hopefully come back to them.
Riza wrote him every week without fail as if she was still reporting to a superior officer. Letters never came but she felt like she had to maintain some kind of lifeline to him, like throwing a lifesaver to a flailing drowning man who wasn't sure if he wanted to be saved yet. If he tugged, she would pull him back in, but until that day came she wouldn't do more than just write and leave a trail of words back to his old life.
Rumor had it that he had traveled and finally reenlisted, now a Corporal in some remote Northern border location. She didn't know what that meant for him, if he had finally found answers or if he found a location that was important to him for his research. It meant he was alive and for that she was thankful. It hurt knowing he couldn't tell her he was alright, but she knew the man better than he knew himself. He wasn't alright, he didn't want to give her false hope, and he was still struggling with who he was. He was like an injured animal, protecting himself while he licked his wounds and found his strength again.
He thought he was protecting her from him.
That was the foundation of their relationship, always. Protection. When it was all over, when he was finally free of his goal to take down Bradley, he had shown her a side he had been hiding all along. Their time together while he recovered had been worth the wait, worth the years of everything they had endured, worth every minute they spent in each others company. It was a flush of life they had denied themselves, but he just couldn't move on because there was someone who he was supposed to protect and failed. Someone else.
Initially he used his resources as General and as a State Alchemist to search for Ed, to make sense of what had happened. He brought it home and she watched him turn into an alchemist again, absorbed in the theories and research, hunting for that answer. Then it consumed him as guilt and responsibility combined to take him away from the happiness they had established in the wave of it all. He called religiously to check on Alphonse. He still found no answers for himself or anyone.
So she understood it all, with the exception of what he was seeing. That worried her. The responsibility wearing on him she understood. The guilt, understandable. The visions...that scared her. He had seen that and started to pull away, because he couldn't fail to protect another person he cared for. So he protected her by leaving.
She put her pen down as she thought about it all over again. The letter was so factual, as they always were, and all she wanted to do was break protocol and tell him how much she missed him. Tears fell and smeared the ink and she covered her eyes and let loose a wave of tears for the man she loved, because she worried she couldn't save him this time.
When Roy Mustang walked back into her life it was like she was seeing a ghost...no it was if the heavens opened up and showed her an angel. The warmth, the hope, the joy just took over her body and she threw protocol to the wind. She ran to him and Havoc caught her, because he wasn't blinded by the euphoric feeling of seeing the man they all adored come back to life.
He was focused. He was powerful. He was back in charge. He was also not here for her.
She didn't know how to handle that. The fact that he was not focused on her. Then she realized this was the answer he was looking for, the truth he was seeking, the validation that he was not entirely lost. She watched him return to his old form, a smirk and a wave of flame, the Roy Mustang that had always been the hero. He wasn't here for her because he needed to know that he hadn't killed another person he vowed to protect, the boy he had made into the Fullmetal Alchemist. Without Roy's intervention and help, Ed would have never been on the course that sent him to Dante's house to disappear. Had it been Ed's choice to join the military he would have been laughed at and sent home, Roy made the decision for him and laid it out like a glimmering gift and that was what destroyed him. Hughes lost his life doing his job, Ed was lost doing the job Roy helped him qualify for. That little boy in the wheelchair, no parents and no future, was supposed to be better off under Roy's direct command.
She leaned into Havoc as she watched him transform back into the Roy Mustang they swore to follow. They watched as he found himself again and became that man worthy of following. Ed wasn't lost, he was simply on the other side in a world with less color and no alchemy. In world needing a hero like him. Roy had seen that, somehow, their connection had been so great that he saw Ed in another dimension and he finally understood it now. Now, he could let him go and come back to them as the man they loved. Come back to her, as the man she loved.
And the Roy Mustang was back. A corporal giving orders like a King. A Flame Alchemist using his power to save the lives of those who served beside him. A man no longer lost, ready to move forward into the future. When he stood in front of her again she saw it in his eyes, the passion had returned and with that a desire to live again. There was fire in those eyes.
Chapter 45: Well Choreographed
AN: For a Tumblr request for "Wanna Dance?" from a fic meme. I thought I posted this one to the collection already but apparently not?
Riza held her wine glass up as she turned to the sound of a familiar voice and her features warmed as she saw his smile. "Jean Havoc, what are you up to?"
Havoc frowned. "Why do I have to be 'up to something'? You're a beautiful woman, I'm a single and eligible man. There's dancing, I would love to dance."
She put the wine glass down and crossed her arms.
"There may also be a betting pool on how long it will take Mustang to have a melt down and cut in." Havoc grinned. "It's the last dance and he has been stuck dancing with every old, ass-grabbing, rich woman in this place all night."
"Who is in this pool?"
"Me and Hughes." Jean said. "Breda is in the actual pool with Armstrong's sister. Apparently he has 'excellent form' with his cannonballs and possibly other balls since he threw his boxers onto the lawn as I was leaving."
"Which sister?" Riza asked as she watched Catherine waltz with Major Miles.
"The one who will kill me for spreading rumors." Havoc said and Riza raised her eyebrows. "Yeah. While the party is going on out here, there is a back room strip poker game that I just lost my paycheck in. Did you know the Amrstrongs play strip poker by stripping first? I didn't. I was sitting across from Alex and his Dad. Not the two pair I wanted to be looking at."
Riza started laughing. It didn't surprise her in the least.
"So, in order to pay my rent this month I need to win back some money. Enter Lieutenant Colonel Hughes." Havoc held out his hand for her knowing his friend would not let him down. "I bet Mustang will keep it together, Hughes thinks he'll fold."
"So that's why he has been doing shots with the Colonel between his dances?" Riza took his hand and walked to the dance floor with him.
"Hughes is a dirty cheater." Havoc said as they got into position for the waltz. "Makes me feel better about taking his money."
Riza laughed and enjoyed the dance with Havoc who was a graceful dancer despite his size. As they moved around the floor she watched Roy shoot them glances and Hughes shoot pictures of those glances. She wished that Hughes wasn't so childish at times like this, certainly his little games could lead to blackmail for others later. Then again, Breda apparently had Olivier occupied in the pool out back. "There is nothing between the Colonel and I. I really wish Hughes would stop starting rumors."
"It just takes seeing him look at you when he's unguarded to know that he feels something." Jean whispered. Vague. Yes keep it vague cause then you can plead ignorance later. "I try not too look too far into that something. Especially when you drop your guard when he's not looking."
"I..." She almost said that she never dropped her guard. "Think you and Hughes need better hobbies."
"I hear that Catherine is planning to play a personal song after the band is done with their set. So there will be another dance not on the card." Havoc looked over as Mustang shot him a glare which would have been more impressive if Armstrong's Mom wasn't the one holding his semi-drunk ass upright. "There is also a second ballroom upstairs, right above this room. They designed it so there would be a private room that could enjoy the music without the people dampening it. Great acoustics, so you might want to make sure all you do is dance."
The waltz ended and Havoc gave her a wink. Something from earlier came to the forefront of her mind. A bizarre moan from the air ducts that interrupted dessert. "That was you? You were the reason Alex had to tell everyone the second floor was haunted by an ancestor's ghost?"
Havoc smiled bashfully. "I knew that the Armstrongs weren't big fans of clothing but I really like Catherine's methods of taking them off much better. Good call, by the way, telling me to take off my jacket. Apparently I do have some really nice muscles..."
Riza watched him blush and she gave him a sly smile. Then he kissed her hand and took a step back.
"So in a special thanks for helping me win some cash tonight for my date next Friday...might I suggest you check out that ballroom on the second floor." Havoc fussed with his tie a little. "I'll tell the Colonel that you need to discuss some security issue you discovered."
She should have walked away. She should have looked at Roy's pouty face as Mrs. Armstrong dropped him in his chair and just walked away. However Roy Mustang in a tuxedo made her weak and she didn't see harm in just one dance. Havoc never said anything about what he saw and never would so she had another piece of cheesecake and followed it up with wine, before excusing herself. The staircase was empty, the hallway deserted and the upstairs ballroom quiet and secluded. The lights were already on and she could hear the music begin to play again, the vibrations of it under her feet and the sounds floating up through the air ducts. Despite the piano being in a different room, twenty feet below her, the sound was just as crisp as if she was right next to it.
"What...did we overlook?"
His voice was serious as he entered the room and closed the door. Roy Mustang had been offended by the implication that his survey of the grounds had missed a major security flaw. It sobered him up immediately. She herself was in a much better mood thanks to a long night and too many glasses of wine. She had underestimated Havoc and she would thank him with some dating advice come Monday. But for now... "You didn't dance with me yet and the night is almost over."
Roy stood in the auxiliary ballroom and stared at her under the chandelier's glow. She bent down and took her shoes off, not wanting the echos to carry, and stood up straight to wait on him. He kicked his own shoes off and joined her, delighting in the feel of her in his arms and these few minutes to enjoy the night with the woman he truly wanted to be holding all night long. He wished it could be different but when he looked into her eyes and moved around the wooden floor without a misstep or move, he didn't care. Because the only thing that mattered in this moment was her and even if they danced together in that crowd room below, he would only focus on her.
She smiled and moved closer as their dance turned from formal to personal. She dropped her hand to his back and put her head on his shoulder and entwined her fingers in his. Their steps became smaller as he cradled her in his arms and rested his cheek against her head. It was tender, romantic and just them as a beautiful piano solo filled the room. It meant the world to have this brief moments together because there were so few of them. It wasn't even pretending that this was a different reality where they could be together, no, it was genuine appreciation of the few minutes they were allowed to be themselves. Behind closed doors they were Roy and Riza, in public they would always be professional. No matter what changed or what didn't. For now they enjoyed it.
Chapter 46: Existential Crisis
AN: Prompt from Tumblr. (Prompt: sarcastic al or ed with "stop interrupting my existential crisis" ? Or legit teen agnst in the middle of the military hq)
Not heavy RoyAi but I like shipper Hughes so I'm slipping this one in here. Also Hughes is not dead because...I'm the writer.
"Can you two clarify….never mind" Roy just slapped the report file shut and threw it in the trashcan and made a show of getting his glove on and snapping as Ed watched. "You know what? Just get out your crayons and write another little fairy tale about serial killers and sins and we'll try this again tomorrow."
Ed gasped. His report! Burning! His DRAWINGS! "What…the... FUCK MUSTANG!"
"I know, what kind of fairy tales did you grow up hearing?" Hughes took a vase off the shelf, handed Riza the flowers and whispered 'Roses are red, Uniforms are Blue, Roy's good in bed and he loves you too. ' before using the water in the vase to put out the small trash fire. He then set the vase down and sat on the edge of the desk.
"I wrote that on the train! It took hours to write!" Ed stammered. His report…gone. "Like hell I'm writing another."
"You want me to tell the Fuhrer that you broke into a secret lab, were attacked by monsters and dead convicts whose souls were alchemically attached to suits of armor and then escaped as the building collapsed?" Roy asked. "That you were not actually the reason for the extensive property damage, despite your trespassing and breaking and entering? That you don't happen to have a suit of armor right next to you that might give you some insight as to how those convicts might have been bonded to metal and an arm that shows why nobody would pay that price to make it happen?"
"It's the truth!" Ed snapped. "And if you want better you can write it yourself asshole!"
"The Fuhrer was moved by the drawings." Al said and the Colonel turned to him and cocked his head.
"You….showed him your drawings?" Roy asked and then looked at Hughes. "You let them?"
Hughes shrugged. "He brought melon."
"What..." Roy took off his glove and slapped it in the drawer before slamming it shut. "What the hell is wrong with all of you? Do any of you think?"
"I'm thinking about kicking your ass." Ed growled.
"I'm thinking about Barry and what he said about…alchemy creating memories. How maybe I'm just….artificial and not a soul at all. Just lost." Al said and hung his head. "A creation of alchemy."
"I'm thinking about making another kid with Gracia, hopefully Riza's thinking about how much fun it would be to do that with you." Hughes booped Roy on the nose and then leaned back and gave Roy an apologetic half-smile. "I really tried damage control. Ed was telling Armstrong and I about the people he met in the lab and in walks the Fuhrer with a melon. He…saw the drawings and got very….emotional. Told Ed to stop looking. So naturally I wanted to escort the boys here to make sure they didn't step in something deep."
"What's this about Barry?" Ed asked Al quietly.
"He just…presented me with a different perspective." Al replied.
"He's a murder. He's not to be trusted." Ed turned to his brother, ignoring the lost report.
"Like I said, perspective. I know you have good intentions and he clearly has bad intentions, which is why I listened because we both know Truth is multi-dimensional." Al said.
"Whatever he said to you was to gain the upper hand…you know that." Ed countered.
"Stop interrupting my existential crisis!" Al snapped and stood up. "He was like me. A soul trapped in a suit of armor as a punishment for his sin. An experiment. What are we? We're not human, we're not dead…we're a product of alchemy. I'm no longer unique and he has seen what happens when blood seals deteriorate and bodies that were once one try to erase an abomination created by alchemy. How long before Scar comes to obliterate me, like he did Nina, out of pity?"
The room was silent and the awkward air hung over them along with the acrid smell of the burnt paperwork wafting from the trash. Riza finally stepped forward and slapped the flowers into Hughes's face before dropping them into his arms, a punishment for his out of line comments. Hughes would make this situation worse by being a Dad the boys were too old for and Roy would compound it by being the adult the boys were not old enough for. Al needed to answer his own nagging questions and she knew exactly how to do it. "Perhaps you should ask Scar yourself. There have been rumors of him feeding stray cats in the market district and the Colonel and I were planning to check it out this afternoon. Would you like to accompany us?"
Roy glanced over at Riza, she had a plan; It was to separate the brothers and let Al enjoy life a little by playing with cats. Something humane….something human. Well played, Riza. Maybe Hughes wasn't so cray about this parenthood thing afterall, she was really good with these two and had raised a great dog. "We could use your help Al. People will be more inclined to talk to you since you are not military."
"I want to get out of this stinking office anyhow." Ed stood and grabbed his coat. "Got a score to settle…."
"I said Alphonse. You have a report to write." Roy stood up and opened his desk drawer to grab his gloves and anything else valuable he didn't want Ed or Hughes confiscating. "Hughes you can help him make it stink less."
"But what? Slathering it with bullshit instead of truth?" Hughes asked and Roy gave him a smile and a wink.
"Exactly." Roy grabbed his coat and walked over to Riza who was waiting by Alphonse to convince the kid to come with them. Al was already making his way to the door, excited to be part of a mission and also to tend to East City's feral cat situation. "See you two later."
Chapter 47: Arcadia
AN: For the request of RoyAi and X-Files. I've been wanting to write the Arcadia "fake married in a weird suburban subdivision" episode for a while.
"Quite the welcoming committee." Roy said and looked over at Riza as they pulled into the drive of their new home. He grinned, excitement just bubbling from every inch of him. Finally. A fun mission. He had every reason to refer to her as his wife, his love... Riza! He was beyond happy. There wasn't even a word to describe how he was feeling.
"Maybe you can tone down the excitement a little." She said. "We're an old married couple."
"Only 'cause you got knocked up as a teenager." He said and she smacked him as he put the car in park and the moving truck pulled in beside them. "What? I'm not the one who agreed to let Ed come along. You had to realize we would have to adjust our cover stories to accommodate him."
She took a deep breath. "Please, behave. Please remember this is for a mission."
"Slim chance of that." He said. "Have you met your first born?"
Riza looked over as Ed jumped out of the moving van to greet the new neighbors. "Yes, so get out there and play your part."
"Yes, honey." Roy said and got out of the car with a smile on his face. He was going to enjoy this mission to it's fullest but then Ed saw a way to ruin his fun and join in. Now he was fake married with a fake kid and that kid sucked. So it was time to ruin his fun too. He walked over and threw his arm around Ed and loudly said, "Hey son, already getting to know the neighbors huh?"
Ed shook off the hug and smirked. "Well you and Mom were taking your time getting out of the car. Kind of rude, really. These people brought apple pie!"
Ed would throw caution to the wind just to get some pie. This was going to be valuable insight as to how the Fullmetal Alchemist conducted his missions. Roy held out his hand. "Hey, nice to meet you. I'm Roy Hayate and this is my son, Ed and that's my beautiful wife Riza."
The welcoming committee all chirped hellos and greetings until one stepped forward. "I'm Roger Trumbull, head of the neighborhood watch. My wife Tracy..our daughter Kate..."
"Oh good, someone your own age Ed. Go play." Roy tried to shove him away but the stubborn kid just shoved back.
"I'm fourteen, I don't play anymore." Ed growled and the small party of people started to migrate to Hawkeye who was trying to carry her luggage into the house. Luggage with a break down rifle and ammunition nestled inside. Never leave home, or move to a new one, without it.
"Except with yourself, ha." Roy tussled Ed's hair and saw that look of challenge. That look, followed by a sinister smirk that said 'game on'. "Go help your Mom carry that suitcase."
"So, what do you do for a living Roy?" Roger asked.
"Nothing. He's useless." Ed said. "Mom makes all the money."
"Doing what?" Roger prodded.
Ed felt Roy's shove to try to get him to leave. Nope. "She specializes in flame retardant materials."
"Fascinating." Roger said.
"She is. Love of my life. " Roy chuckled and put his hand on Ed's shoulder and squeezed hard enough to feel the kid cringe. He just blew their cover story and thankfully he said it all loud enough for Riza to hear. God Ed. You little shit. "Riza, works from home and I am lucky enough to work from home too."
"You're probably wondering how this loser could be my Dad right?" Ed interrupted. "Me with blond hair, him with black hair. Makes you wonder if there might be some Game of Thrones stuff going on with Uncle Jean over there."
"Stop implying you're a bastard by anything but choice, Ed." Roy said. "Like I explained before, genetics are incredible. The blond gene is recessive on my side and you lucked out and got your Mom's looks which will hopefully help compensate for your shitty attitude. I wish you'd take an interest in science, it's all very simple really. Just apply yourself, son."
"Roy! Ed!" Riza called from the house. "Do some work!"
"Yes, you must be moved in by 7 pm." Roger said. "Per homeowners association rules."
"Rules are meant to be broken." Ed said and the neighbors all looked at him mortified.
"Not anymore, young man." Roy said and finally shoved Ed towards the moving truck. "We're trying to leave your troubled past behind us."
"We'll help you unpack!" Roger said when he looked at his watch. "Only an hour and a half before you have to be done!"
The neighbors rushed to the truck as if there would be a firing squad waiting if the moving truck remained in the driveway one minute too long. they completely ignored his comment about Ed, even though he expected suburban parents to immediately make the boy a pariah. Roy couldn't help but ask. "Or what?"
There was nervous laughter and most of them pretended they didn't hear his question. Ed scanned the cul-de-sac. "Well, Dad, hope you don't mind if I check things out."
"Just make sure you announce yourself when you get home, son." Roy said and smirked. "Your Mom and I might want to do some celebrating."
"Ew." Ed said and closed his eyes. Suddenly images of him walking in on his giggling parents back when he was little just flashed before his eyes. He missed his Mom's laugh but not that laugh. He opened his eyes and glared at Roy. "I should report you to the authorities for even talking about that in front of me."
"Still time for you to get a ride back with Uncle Jean. You could check out the military academy or boarding school. I told you I wasn't going to make you come... " Roy then let a smirk creep across his face. Threat or not, he would make this kid retreat. Just try telling Grumman I was playing house with Hawkeye, just try it kid. "Your Mom on the other hand..."
"EW!" Ed screamed. "Dinner better be on the table when I get home, Dad. And it better not be burnt."
Roy watched him run off, annoyed that he couldn't force him to leave with the rest of the team. He watched the neighbors struggle to unpack the moving truck with muscles they didn't have and an air of panic about then that made him wonder what could possibly happen if this truck was still here past 7.
"I didn't actually think you could cook." Ed said as he shoved food into his mouth and savored every bite. "This is good. Really good."
Riza was enjoying dinner as well but she could see Roy was just picking at it, his fantasy vacation had been ruined when Ed volunteered to come along. It was about the mission, Ed would be great at surveillance as a unruly teenager and even Roy had to admit that, however he really wanted to live the 'fake married trope' to the fullest and Ed got in the way of that. "Did you discover anything?"
"Every house looks alike. There is a curfew. This place creeps me out."
Roy picked at dinner. "You missed the neighbors practically running to their homes at 7."
"That fountain in the middle of the community reminds me of the one in Liore." Ed said and thought about it. "Like old world religion-y and pretentious, spilling over with false hopes and promises and lies."
"Dear Diary..." Roy mumbled. "I moved in with my new fake family today and I am appalled by the uniformity and hopelessness seeping from every fiber of suburban life. I feel so repressed. Like this place will suck away my individuality. Nobody understands me...I'm so edgy..."
Riza sighed. "Here we go."
Ed sat up in his seat and prepared to do his Mustang impression. He ran his hand through his hair and waved his arm wildly and snapped. "Well Fullmetal, maybe if you weren't so short sighted you would see I was planning to use this mission as a way to win over the love of my life, because the only way she'd fall for me is if was literally the only man in a fifty mile radius who wasn't part of some weird suburban drug cartel cult in the hills."
They glared at each other until Riza stood and took away their plates.
"Wait, I wasn't done." Ed said.
"You two better not ruin this mission." Riza growled.
"He already has." Roy grumbled. "Why couldn't we bring the dog?"
"No dogs allowed." Riza put the plates back down as Ed looked at her with the most pitiful eyes and she couldn't deny him his meal.
"See, they're evil." Roy said. "Who doesn't allow dogs?"
"I'll go out tonight and see what I can find out." Ed promised.
"Like all night?" Roy asked and felt a kick to his shin. "What? We're married!"
"Fake married, Colonel." She said.
"I want to find out what happens when we violate the no loud noises after 10 pm rule." Roy said and heard Ed gag a little.
"I hope she shoots you for being so...gross." Ed said and stood up to get a second helping. "Which is not a reflection of how I feel about your cooking because this is really good."
"You're the best cook Dad." Ed said and laughed. "Best keep your ass in the kitchen where it belongs."
Roy gave Riza a glance and she seemed so soft and relaxed, despite this being a mission and having to be careful what they said around Ed, she seemed to be enjoying herself. He still wished they brought the dog instead of Ed, but maybe this wouldn't be a ruined mission after all.
Chapter 48: Tour
AN: Tumblr prompt meme for "How can you think I'm anything but hopelessly in love with you?" (I had read an article about downtown Chatanooga before I got this request and this was in my head. Also goes well with Stray Rondo game for GBA cause those sewers are totally not being used for their true potential.)
"The sewers are actually really nice." Ed declared as they wound their way through the access tunnel and into the main spillway.
"Except for the smell of shit." Roy said and Ed turned to look at him with a smirk.
"I just though that was coming from your mouth." Ed grinned.
"Probably wafting off you too considering you're the biggest source of bullshit in my life." Roy countered.
"Boys," Riza said and sighed. "Please do what you need to do quickly and lets get back to the surface. No matter what you want to believe is the source, it does smell terrible down here."
"Right." Al said and pulled out the map they had of the sewer system from the engineer's office. "We were thinking that this is probably how Scar has been moving around and evading us. So we mapped out the most probable route to the waste water plant. It's out by the slums. "
"Why is this not being used more?" Ed asked Mustang. "I'm being serious now, it's really impressive architecture and planning here. Other than the smell, this seems like a low traffic, low-key transportation system to anywhere in the city."
"It even looks like they bricked over doors and windows." Al said and pointed to a corner as they walked over a rather nice arch bridge. "Maybe someone did live down here at some point."
"It's because this used to be street level East City back in the day." Roy said as the boys stopped and looked at him, trying to see if he was pulling their legs. "I'm serious. This city was not built with sewers, brick roads and adequate drainage. When the Spring rains came the town would flood, roads would be bogs and most of the market district would be underwater. At some point the army engineers came in and surveyed out the ground for Eastern HQ and decided to save East City in the process. They used all the dirt excavated for HQ's basement and backfilled it into downtown. Raised the roads. Turned all first floor levels into basements and moved all businesses to new street level which used to be the second floor. What you are looking at is actually the old sidewalks, roads and canal ways. The streets were trenches anyhow from all the traffic and easily became the sewer system. It's a neat history. You should ask the engineers about it when you return the map."
"That's really cool." Ed said and walked over to a part of the wall that looked like it had a door bricked in and window closed up. "So this used to be a storefront?"
"Yes, now it's someone's basement." Roy said. "Made it easy to add plumbing."
"Doesn't it flood still?" Al asked.
"It's probably damp but the sewer system does it's job pretty well. The absence of any water lines and sewage removal was the issue at the time." Roy said and the boys scampered off to the next bridge clearly trying to picture old East City. They thrived on knowledge. He understood that feeling. "Lieutenant, you can now say you are the only woman who I have ever taken on a tour of old East City. Think of how jealous all the ladies will be of our date? How can you not fall for me and all these incredibly charming and romantic getaways I whisk you away on?"
He gave her a smile, a tired smile. One that said he wished he could walk the streets above with her on his arm and talk about the fascinating history of the town. She walked close as a portion of the sidewalk looked ready to collapse and said softly, "How can you think I'm anything but hopelessly in love with you? I love that you know so much unique history and branch out and learn more than alchemy. I love our adventures because they always show me another side of you I can love."
He stopped and looked at her, not expecting a sincere statement considering the conditions they were in. Sewer water rushing by. Stench of East City permeating every fabric of their clothes and embedding itself in their sinus cavity. Two teenage boys giggling as they spotted an intact brown log floating under the bridge. He gave her a genuine smile now and she pressed on ahead to go intervene before the Elrics started using alchemy on the floating treasures in the sewer water. Part of him wished he could show the world exactly how he felt about her, but then there were these moments they shared in private that meant so much more.
Chapter 49: Don't Let Go
AN: Short one. Tumblr Drabble for a fic meme, "Don't let go"
Don't Let Go
"Don't let go."
It was said in such a seductive whisper that she almost forgot for a second where they were and the danger they were in. Roy was barely hanging on to an old rusty guardrail on the water tower atop the Central Times building with one hand and the other was wrapped around her. She had instinctively clung to him as he reached out and pulled her back as the wood plank she was standing on had given way. One arm around his neck, one arm stretch out and read to fire on their target if the opportunity presented itself and one slip of the hand to send them both falling twenty feet down into the exhaust fans on the roof. "I worry about how much you flirt when in life threatening situations."
"Well, when my heart is racing and adrenaline pumping, it's always because of you….so…." He smirked and gripped the railing harder, his gloves were not made for slip resistance. "Hold me tight and don't let go."
Chapter 50: Beach
AN: A tumblr drabble prompt for "Beach"
"Can I get you a refill on your coffee?"
Roy tried to not appear too eager or look like he was staring at her, but having Riza hovering over him with a smile on his face made his heart beat faster and his mouth go dry. He looked up at her, bright beautiful brown eyes and a warm smile directed at him...yet not him. She didn't recognize him at all but he wasn't going to dwell on that. "Yes, please."
She carefully poured another cup of coffee for her customer and then checked his cream and sugar to make sure he was well stocked. "What else can I get for you? Have you decided?"
He realized that he hadn't even looked at the menu yet. "Uh..."
"I'm sorry, I can't help but think you look familiar." Riza studied his face as he looked up at her. He was cute...no he was downright gorgeous. This had to sound like some kind of pick up line, but she felt like she knew his face.
Roy's heart skipped a beat. Hoping that seeing him had brought back a rush of memories.
"Oh...you look like that guy in that movie." Riza said and put the coffee pot down on the table as it was starting to get too hot to hold. "The Flame Alchemist movie."
And Roy's heart sank. She was mistaking him for the actor who played him in that damned propaganda film?
"Have you seen it?" Riza asked. "I've seen it a few times, the special effects are great and story is so good."
"I don't watch war movies." Roy said simply. He should have been excited she was compelled to see that damned film, maybe she felt it was familiar in some way, but he just was heartbroken that she had no idea who he was.
Riza looked at him, specifically the uniform he was wearing. Oh god. He was a soldier and from the veterans she had served here she knew that war movies were not something they watched for fun. "Oh...my god...I'm so sorry. I didn't mean to..."
"It's fine." Roy said quickly and gave her a cheesy smile to brighten the mood. She must have mistook his expression for one of disgust with the notion of watching the film, not some damned actor being who she thought of when she saw Roy Mustang on screen. "I'd love to hear about it if you liked it that much. Perhaps when you get off work?"
Riza blushed. Sure customers asked her out a lot, but there was something about him that seemed genuine. Not like the gross older men who came by every day. "I'm afraid I'm not a great conversationalist."
Roy tried to act casual, but he was nervous he'd scare her off and risk losing her again. He forced himself to smile despite his nerves. "I'm enjoying this conversation."
She bit her lip. "Why, are you avoid work or something?"
He gave her a genuine smile. Still Riza. "We are allowed lunch breaks, you know."
"Speaking of, are you going to order something or not?" She asked. "My boss is going to wonder why I'm not taking care of other customers."
"Will you let me take you to lunch?" Roy asked. "Perhaps you can take a break? Looks like business is dying down a little."
"It will be if I leave and go eat somewhere else." She said and picked up her coffee pot. "The boss isn't going to like losing two customers."
She was getting ready to leave. Dammit. Roy quickly said, "I'll pay for the most expensive thing on the menu, your boss can keep the food. I'd very much like to try the food vendor over by the beach and would like to continue this conversation over where we aren't being watched and in danger of reprimand."
Roy knew when he was going to be shot down, especially by her. He quickly added, "I have a dog. He had to stay outside and I hate leaving him out there."
Riza paused and then looked through the window to see an adorable Shiba Inu with his paws on the glass staring in at her. She smiled. "I love dogs."
Roy felt the warmth in his heart again and pulled his wallet out. He placed a handful of Cenz on the table and moved to drink his coffee quickly.
"Ok. Can I bring him a treat?" She asked.
"Absolutely." Roy said. It wasn't spoiling Hayate if she gave him a cookie.
Riza smiled as she wrote up a bill and took his money to put in the till. She took off her apron and walked over to he cafe owner, "Can I take a break?"
"Mmmm." The owner said and looked the military officer up and down and grinned. A "Break". "Sure. Will 15 minutes be enough?"
Riza huffed. She wished she could find a job somewhere else but that was hard without an ID or even knowledge of who she was. This place paid her under the table and she was at least able to afford to rent a small room and eat here for free. "I'll be back in 15."
Roy waited for her outside and Hayate was a bundle of energy, running around his feet and whimpering with excitement, it was the first time he had seen his Mom in three months. Three months of Riza missing and finally Ed and Al had found her in this resort town. They had strict instructions to gather intel and report back to him and he was amazed they obeyed. Where Hawkeye was concerned they always obeyed. He turned as she came out of the cafe with her purse and a smile on her face. It was so good to see her again and before he could bask in the glow of her smile, Hayate stole her attention away.
"He's adorable!" Riza said as she bent down and the black dog almost jumped in her arms. "Is he always so happy to meet new people?"
"He's a military dog..." Roy said softly as he watched Hayate jump up on Riza until she scooped him up in her arms and held him. The dog had waited by the door for her to come home for three months while he slept on the couch waiting to hear his tail thump as an announcement of her arrival. In the office, he sat by her desk and watched the door. Now he was acting like her puppy again and he was jealous that he was able to run up to her and nuzzle her like that. "He's usually well behaved."
Riza smiled. "He's such a good boy!"
"His name is Black Hayate." Roy couldn't help but smile. Hayate looked at him and just dared him to tell her to put him down. "Well, shall we get lunch?"
Riza felt the dog lean into her as she went to put him down and thought better of it. He seemed to be enjoying the attention and she doubted his owner carried him around everywhere so she took the opportunity to spoil him a little. They crossed the street and walked to the boardwalk where vendors were selling food. Once they were there she put him down and while she was petting him the gentleman she was dining with placed an order for both of them. She gave him the cookie she had in her pocket and the pup crunched on it happily. She realized she knew the dogs name but not the man she was going on this lunch date with. She was slightly embarrassed by that but when she stood up to walk over to him, something caught her eye.
There had been instances where she would see something and it would cause her to focus on it and struggle to remember why she would find it important. She didn't know why that movie she kept going to see meant so much to her or why that bald man over on the bench made her feel tense. Since her arrival here three months ago she had struggled to find out who she was and if she was missed by someone, but had no choice other than to settle in to a temporary life to keep herself housed and fed. So when things struck a nerve she tried so damned hard to not get frustrated with herself for not understanding why.
However that man on the bench reading the newspaper...he was dangerous. She knew that somehow. She pick up the dog and walked over to the officer who she came here with. "I can't tell you why, but I think that man over on the bench is planning to do something bad and...we have to stop him."
Roy put his food down and tried to not look in the man's direction. "What's he doing?"
"No." She said and looked at the suspicious man's eyes. He wasn't reading the paper, he was looking over it to the beach. "He's looking out at someone on the beach."
Roy looked up and scanned the beach for familiar faces. Then he saw them, General Hakuro's family. Of course! Bald's gang never gave up going after the man and Hakuro's last vacation had been ruined so he replanned it. He picked up the food he bought and turned to Riza, even if she didn't know who she was she couldn't stop being herself. "Does it look like he has a gun?"
"I can't tell." She said and looked under the bench. Her heart rate escalated. "He has a bomb!"
Roy dropped the food as Riza ran over to the bell on the boardwalk used to alert the lifeguards to drowning victims. This beach was popular, but many city dwellers had no experience swimming and often found themselves in trouble. Using local citizens to help spot struggling people saved a lot of lives. She struck the bell with one hand and held Hayate in the other, jumping to action without waiting on him.
"BOMB! Clear the Boardwalk! Clear the beach! BOMB!"
Roy almost lost visual of her as people started to run everywhere, including their suspect. He was more concerned about clearing the area, getting them somewhere safe he could figure out a way to use alchemy to keep the impact of the bomb minimal. He ran over to her, grabbed her by the waist and they dashed towards a bathhouse as the bomb went off.
Riza's ears were ringing as her soldier threw her into the bathhouse. The building took the brunt of the explosion but tiles came loose and fell on top of them...no him. He was hunched over her, protecting her. She still held onto his dog until the debris stopped falling. Then he was up and spinning back towards the door, taking something out of his pocket. She set the dog down and tapped his shoulder and pointed to his gun. She needed it...and didn't even know why.
Roy handed it to her without question and put his gloves on. He held up a finger signifying she needed to wait on him and then pointed forward when the dust settled. Together the emerged from the bathhouse to a shattered boardwalk and utter devastation in the blast radius. He held his hand up, ready to attack if needed.
The gloves he wore...were from the movie. The Flame Alchemist movie. Was this guy for real or was he just a joke? No...his actions said he was real, this was not a situation anyone could easily play a part in. This wasn't an act. Riza looked around and saw the casualties. People walking by, some crying...some in shock and walking away with debris lodged in their bodies. She held up the gun and her hearing got better. This wasn't a situation anyone could play a part in, this wasn't an act for her either. She knew what to do. "We need a medic. We need to get these people help."
"We need to make sure the area is cleared before we bring in first responders." Roy said.
Riza tasted the sulfur in the air, from the bomb. She looked around and felt like this was familiar...not the location but the act of destruction. She looked at a man with a wood splinter from a bench in leg and didn't flinch. Then she looked at the gun she had in her hand and the man beside her who had given it to her like he knew her. "You know who I am."
"Yes." Roy replied.
"Am I good or bad?" She asked. This knowledge she had, the feelings he had when she saw something wrong about to happen...it could go either way. She had no idea what kind of person she was.
"It's not a movie, Riza. It's more complicated than the hero and the villain." Roy said. "You're my hero though and we are trying to do some good in this world."
She felt her hand shake a little. There was something in the way he said that that made her move closer to him, want to protect him. She felt safe by him. "Why are you here? To find me or that man?"
"To find you." Roy said and they walked closer to the obliterated food cart where they were standing a few minutes earlier. Help was arriving. Local police and paramedics were filtering in. "You disappeared on a mission. You went undercover. I've been looking for you for three months."
"Was I here to find this man with the bomb?"
"No." Roy said and looked down at the empty beach and the people trying to help each other in the aftermath of this attack. "This event is entirely unrelated. You're over a hundred miles from where you should have been. "
"Who am I?"
"Lieutenant Riza Hawkeye." Roy said and finally looked at her. "You're in that movie about me. The movie about the Flame Alchemist. The movie however is a load of propaganda and bullshit that is meant to glorify a war we were definitely not the good guys in and that movie has stirred up a lot of bad sentiments that had been laid to rest. So this attack, is one of many in this region."
"What happened that I can't remember?" She asked.
"I don't know." He whispered. "And I don't care because you're alive and back with me."
Roy sighed. It was like Ed was drawn to destruction like a magnet. He was running over to the boardwalk and about to interrupt them. "Yes Fullmetal?"
Ed and Al scampered up and stared at Hawkeye, afraid to ask. Ed finally just blurted out, "Can we do anything?"
"Did you chase after the bomber?"Roy asked.
"How the hell was I supposed to know there was a bomber?" Ed snapped.
"Did you offer to protect General Hakuro and his family?" was Roy's next question.
"What!? That idiot is taking another vacation in a town that hates him?" Ed put his hands on his hips. "Maybe you should let them have him, he's a horrible General."
Roy sighed. "Help with the casualties."
"I don't have medical training!" Ed replied.
"Lieutenant?" Al asked and touched Hawkeye's shoulder to signify he was addressing her. "Are you Ok?"
Riza nodded and wondered why there was a boy inside a suit of armor. Then she looked at the dewy eyes of the short one and to the dog sitting beside her. Who were these kids? "I don't remember anything. I'm sure it will pass. We need to help these people, there is nothing that can be done for me right now."
Roy cringed. Hughes was here? How was Hughes here?
"Yo! Roy!" Maes made his way over, though the destruction and past a few gurneys being rolled out with injured people. "Hakuro is safe. Armstrong got the bomber."
"What are you doing here?" Roy hissed and Maes came up and smiled at him.
"Hakuro makes terrible decisions. I figured he'd end up the subject of another assassination attempt." Maes shrugged. "How the hell that guy made General with such terrible situation awareness is beyond me."
"I know, right?" Ed said and glanced over at Hawkeye who seemed interested and not annoyed. He was worried.
"Good to see you Lieutenant!" Hughes smiled at Hawkeye and she just gave him a weak smile. "You had these boys worried! I told them you could handle yourself, but you know them..."
"Hughes." Roy hissed.
"Especially this one." Maes wrapped his arm around his best friend. "So any memories coming back yet? Ed reported you didn't recognize him when you served him last week. He told me that the hospital said you were found in a box car and listed you as a transient."
"No..." Riza remembered waking up in the hospital, scared. She remembered this boy having a sandwich at the cafe last week.
"You should kiss her and see if she remembers that." Hughes shoved Roy towards her. "Works in the fairy tales. I'm reading one to Elicia now that works just like that! Handsome prince kissing the sleeping princess...we cut out pictures of you two and glued them in her picture book."
Riza blushed. There was no way this man could be real military. Then she looked at the expression on Roy's face and it said embarrassment. It said this was something he couldn't believe was being vocalized. She couldn't believe it either and felt...irritated.
Ed's jaw dropped and Al leaned over and nudged him. "I told you so. You owe me 500 cenz."
"No way." Ed said and threw his hands up. "There is no way the Lieutenant has such low standards."
"Wanna bet?" Hughes asked and Al put out his hand.
"He already did and needs to pay up!" Al said.
Riza looked around, the boardwalk had been cleared of casualties and it was just them...having this highly inappropriate discussion in public. There was a General around somewhere. Suddenly her panic of how wrong and dangerous this was made her snap. "Gentleman, please remember where you are and how damaging this talk could be to the Colonel's career."
"Oh?" Hughes said and put his hand against Roy's back to shove him closer to his protector. "Sure you don't need mouth-to-memory resuscitation?"
"Yes, Lieutenant Colonel Hughes." Riza said and glared at him. "You're out of line."
Hughes ruffled up Roy's hair and then tugged on Ed's coat to make the kid follow him to the sidewalk where the police were gathering. Ed was stammering, trying to put together a sentence to ask if he was serious or if he was just pulling some psychological crap or...what the hell was that? Al lingered a second and then followed them, still asking to be paid.
Riza closed her eyes and then took a deep breath. Things were fuzzy, but she at least recognized the people in her life now. When she opened her eyes Roy was staring at her. "Sir, if you continue to look at me like that we're not going to be able to crush these rumors Hughes is spreading."
"What does he know?" Roy said quietly. "He thinks you're the princess that needs to be kissed and saved and we both know you're the Queen who saves me."
"Not helping." She said and smiled at him. "I don't remember what happened to me...but at least I remember you. That's what's important."
Roy smiled. She bent down to pick up her dog so he didn't step on any debris.
"I also remember my dog being ten pounds lighter." She said and gave him disapproving look which was met with a smirk. "Stop feeding him steak."
"Don't leave me unsupervised." Roy said and smiled. "I'm willing to explore that kiss theory though."
"I know you are." She said and hugged her dog and hid her smile in his fur. "I want to see Elicia's book collection."
"Fucking Hughes." Roy sighed. "Push me to the top I told him, not push me on top of you."
She laughed and put her dog down as they reached the sidewalk. It appeared casualties were minimal thanks to her clearing the area. The man with the splinter in his leg was walking. There were only a few bandages here and there and no ambulances had left to go to the hospital.
"You saved a lot of lives, Lieutenant." Roy said loudly. "Well done."
Chapter 51: Forgery
For a Tumblr writing meme request: "I didn't know you could do that"
Riza was quickly scanning the documents she was about to sign before inking a signature on them. She had already read these at some point in the last week and they had passed her criteria for making into the pile on Roy's desk, however actually signing them and giving them approval was another matter entirely. Especially because she wasn't signing her own name.
Roy had once again neglected his paperwork, this time in favor of going out with Hughes on some investigation his best friend was working on. Unfortunately, this time, the paperwork wasn't just simple bureaucratic garbage that could wait for another week or two. Quarterly budgets had just been approved and many department heads were waiting to move forward with projects with they had hanging in limbo until funding came available. The phones were ringing off the hooks in the office thanks to aggravated officers demanding to know why Mustang hadn't followed through with his promises to move their projects forward.
The team was trying to cover for Roy, trying to avoid the office filling with uniforms demanding to talk to the Colonel who was not even here. This put them all in a position they didn't want to be in, lying for their Colonel and forging documents. She was frustrated by the situation and irritated with the cacophony of phones ringing that she had to go back and reread the document she was working on again. She didn't look over her shoulder when the door to the office opened, she knew the men wouldn't let her be ambushed by anyone while she was doing this highly unethical and illegal task, she assumed it was one of them needing more authority to handle an angry officer on the other end of the line.
"I didn't know you could do that."
Riza could hear the humor in his voice, the smug smirk that was clearly plastered on his face as he said it, and she wasn't going to give him the satisfaction of even looking at him right now. "Colonel Mustang, nice of you to show up to work today."
Roy leaned over her shoulder and looked at what she was working on as she slapped her pen down and started organizing the items she already signed for him. His forged signature looked better than what he usually scribbled down. He knew she was capable of signing for him with the utmost accuracy, but seldom used that skill. "Looks good. Almost like you've been practicing writing my name."
It was the inflection of his voice that made her take a deep, angry breath. That hint there was something more to this than saving his ass, that implication that she was just a smitten schoolgirl practicing writing her future surname in her diary instead of forging government documents. He had definitely been out with Hughes all morning, he always came back with seeds planted in his head of some fairy tale ending that Hughes spun while they were alone. Now was not the time and he knew it. She turned to him, fury fixed on her face and death glare radiating from her eyes, then she saw the state he was in and her anger was instantly gone.
"I'm fine. Condemned house. Hughes's suspect barricaded in attic." Roy said. He had plaster and wood particles in his hair, dust covered his black coat like ash and he was sure he could feel the fine layer of filth covering his face with every muscle he moved. The smell of it all, complete with ages of grime and rat shit contained inside the hidden voids of the old house, was embedded in his sinuses and nothing could wash the taste of it out of his mouth. "My stupid idea to take the floor out from under him so we didn't have to be in the line of fire. The second floor wasn't stable enough to support the weight of the ceiling coming down on it. Nor, in fact, was the first floor structurally sound enough to handle it. It was condemned for good reason, apparently. Hughes is taking the guy to the hospital. Sorry I'm late, I didn't anticipate having to dig a screaming, crying counterfeiter out of a pile of rubble in a musty basement."
"You should take a shower." She said and watched him take off his coat, very carefully, and hang it on the coat rack. He then ran his hand through his hair and shook some dust out. "You look dignified with gray hair but I don't want to deal with you complaining about it."
He gave her a smirk and went to his chair. "Sorry I left you to handle this all yourself and put you in the position to cover for me. I'll make it up to you."
She couldn't chastise him, he went as Hughes's back-up for a reason. Had Hughes gone into that situation alone he would have been at a disadvantage at at a much higher risk for injury. Knowing Hughes, he wouldn't have waited for backup, and Roy's unconventional option would not have been available to him. Paperwork could wait. "I'm sorry I doubted you."
Roy sighed as he looked at the stack of work she had done on his behalf. They could go back and forth apologizing for hours. Instead he chose to give her a warm smile as he settled down into his chair and wait for her to come over with pen and papers. He reached over and picked up one of the papers she had signed for him already and smiled. "Seriously though, how long have you been practicing writing 'R. Mustang'?"
"Get back to work sir." She said and dropped the stack of papers next to him, the blush of air from it's fall enough to blow some more dust off his uniform.
"I like the looks of it." He said softly. "I look forward to the day I get to watch you write that on official documents legally."
She sighed. Perhaps she had jumped the gun and started forging his name, assuming he was just screwing around with Hughes. "I wish you would have told me where you were going."
"There wasn't time. He had a lead and he was going to follow it, breakfast and coffee in hand." Roy said and regretted putting her in this position because he couldn't be bothered to just call the office and tell her breakfast with Hughes took an unexpected turn. "I'll be sure to keep you informed, next time."
Riza smiled at him and reached over to pick a piece of debris from his hair and let that be their moment before getting back to work. "Please look over the signed documents so I can file them and keep some of the wolves at bay."
"Of Course." He said and the moment ended as she retracted her hand to place the first one in front of him for inspection. He smiled, he really did like teh way his name looked in her handwriting.
Chapter 52: Perfect
"The new neighbors have a dog?" Maes Hughes asked as he watched the sunset over the house next door and the man he was referencing play fetch with his puppy in the back yard.
"Yes!" Gracia said. "He's adorable! Black Hayate is his name."
"That is a terrible name for a dog." Maes said and continued to study the guy as he rewarded the puppy with a treat that looked more like half a steak than a biscuit. The couple, the Mustangs, had moved in last week and he had been working too late to be able to do proper surveillance. Gracia was doing her best to get him tidbits of information to ease his worry about the new people living beside them but it just wasn't good enough. He watched them whenever he had the opportunity, how had he missed the dog?
"Elicia loves him!" Gracia said and continued to fold the laundry on their bed. "You'll get to meet all the Mustangs this weekend at the cookout, don't worry."
Maes frowned. The weekend was a long way away and his need for more information was eating away at him. He ran regular background checks on everyone in the neighborhood at work, he didn't want any questionable individuals around his wife and daughter while he was working 60 hours a week. Being in military intelligence he was able to write it off as personal security, even if his secretary rolled her eyes at that. What irked him was that he couldn't find any records on these two except for a marriage certificate and a post office box in Central. In fact there were very few Mustangs on record, the only one in the capital was a bar/brothel owner who had no children. So where were this guy's parents? When searching Riza's maiden name, Hawkeye, as property records only lead to a dead man. Gracia made them sound like the perfect couple and from what he could observe through the window at night, they were obnoxiously in love. They weren't newlyweds, they were married for six years! Who the hell had that much sex after six years! "Oh look, he's dancing with the puppy instead of his wife."
"Why does it bother you so much that he is so romantic?" Gracia asked.
"It's just...odd." It wasn't that it was romantic, it was ridiculously perfect. Roy Mustang could sing better than most singers on the radio, better than most he had heard in musicals and at the casino floor show. He heard him every night, because the man sang in the shower and left the window open to help with the build up of humidity. As if that wasn't enough, he had been spotted dancing with his wife in the living room and the back deck. Not just an awkward sway back and forth, fluid and impressive ballroom dancing. Where did he acquire those skills? Who paid for his singing and dancing lessons? That was something that most people were subjected to as a child, and that cost money. Parents with money had to pay taxes and would have been in the governments records somewhere. He suspected Mustang wasn't their real name. "You said he's a writer?"
"Yes, he writes under a pseudonym." Gracia said and walked over to her husband who just could not get over the fact that their new neighbors could be that in love or have no apparent flaws. "He won't tell me what it is or what genre, I asked. He wants to stay private as possible. He must be famous."
"Must be if he could afford that house." Maes mumbled and leaned against the bedroom window as Roy was caught spoiling the dog and his wife emerged from the house to scold him. Then there was his wife, Riza. She was coming out on the deck now to call them both in for dinner and was greeting her husband with a kiss as if they didn't just see each other five minutes prior. She was some kind of consultant, of course that was secret too. However he couldn't help but notice she was the one who always caught him 'spying' on them, sharp eyes that made him feel like he was at a disadvantage here. Him. A Lieutenant Colonel in military intelligence. He was hidden in the shadows of the curtains but somehow as the Mustangs went back into the house, she glanced up and locked onto him. "She always spots me."
"She's a beautiful woman. I'm sure she's used to being watched like a hawk by men." Gracia said and finally got her husband's attention.
"It's...just that they seem too perfect. Like this is some kind of show." Maes said and turned away to give his wife a hug. He never wanted her to even imply he was looking at another woman for that reason. She was right though, both the Mustangs were gorgeous and could have been models. Who were these people?
"Maes, that is ridiculous coming from a man who spends most of his day showing people pictures of his wife and daughter. Bragging on the simplest things." Gracia said and kissed his cheek. "I know you're on edge after that fiasco with Shou Tucker, but what are the odds of another murderer moving into his house and doing those horrible things all over again?"
"I missed that." Maes mumbled. "Right under my nose, I should have known something was wrong when his wife disappeared. I should have..."
"Honey, please." Gracia said and ran her hand through his hair and across the stubble on his cheek. "You can ask them all the questions you want this weekend. Interrogate them yourself, without them even knowing it. Just like you always do. Stop spying on them and come down for dinner."
"You're right." He said and kissed her forehead. She was right, what were the odds of that happening again?
"Oh! I forgot to tell you, Roy does all the cooking! He's going to be bringing some gourmet kebabs over for the grill this weekend!" Gracia said.
Maes took a deep breath and forcibly kept his eyes from drifting back to the neighbor's house so he could go enjoy dinner with his family. Something, however, was just not right with the Mustangs.
The Mustangs were fucking perfect. So perfect that Maes wasn't sure if he felt like he was inadequate as a husband or if he was in love with Riza Mustang's husband. Roy was absolutely incredible; he understood a broad range of topics thanks to his occupation as a writer, could converse intelligently or be casual and laugh at dumb puns and he really was an incredible cook. It pained him to ask the question that had been nagging him, fearing he might lose access to this interesting and engaging new neighbor, but it wasn't in his nature to leave questions hanging. "Roy, why did you move here? You have to know why your house was vacant for so long."
Roy turned his BBQ skewers over so the flames could char the fat on the edges of all the beef cubes. "That's exactly why I wanted to buy it. I needed inspiration, I needed to research what it feels like to be a man like that for my next novel."
Maes wasn't expecting that. The guy bought a house where a murder was committed to be more accurate for a book? That was so damned dedicated it made him feel like he wasn't living up to his own professional standards even if he was currently gathering information on his new neighbor. Selfishly he reacted to the news, wondering if this was just a short term stay on Mayflower Street. "So does that mean you'll be looking to move on once your book is done?"
"Trying to get rid of me already, Hughes?" Roy asked with a grin and dropped a small piece of meat for Hayate who was beside his foot the entire time. The pup caught it and wagged his tail.
Maes had to laugh. It was a cover to come up with an adequate response so quickly. Roy kept him on his toes, that was for sure. "No, it's just a big house and I couldn't help but think when you moved in that it was a little big for just a couple and a dog. I was wondering if Elicia might be able to look forward to having some friends her age next door."
Roy cleared his throat, trying to act embarrassed that his plans might have been seen through. "My wife just let me get a puppy, I think I'll be happy with that for the time being. I am hoping this new book will be successful and turn into a series, then maybe we can think about settling down. After I prove I am not going to ruin the puppy by being lax on discipline, that is."
Maes looked over at Riza and Gracia as they mingled with the other neighborhood guests. Maybe he was looking into this too much. These two were just a nice couple, a couple their age, who got a good deal on a house that had a bad history. Perhaps he was too suspicious, Roy seemed like a really cool guy.
"So why was Gracia grilling me about kids?" Riza asked as Roy finally made it to the bedroom after taking his shower. They has mingled at the BBQ most of the night, Roy apparently got chatty with Maes. "And also questioning me about how long it was going to take for you to write your book. If I wanted to know about the school system. If it was my job or yours making us put off having kids? If we were having so much sex because we were trying to conceive."
Roy bent down and pet the puppy who was laying on his dog bed. He heard Riza tell him to go lay down and he obeyed, but damn if he didn't want to pick up the adorable fur-ball play with him a little while. "Everything about Hughes, everything in his file, points to him being a man who needs answers. He asked and I gave him an answer, why is that a problem?"
"It wouldn't be if you weren't already begging me to keep the puppy once this mission is over." Riza said and watched Roy sit down and call Hayate over to his lap. God, he just would not leave the dog alone. "Roy, you know our life doesn't allow for a dog. I only agreed to this because he was a stray and you somehow convinced me that he would help our cover."
"Why did you think that was a good idea?" He asked. "You knew it wasn't but you still didn't fight me. You wanted him too."
"This is a mission." She reminded him. "You are to go through this house and find Shou Tucker's research notes. We are here to determine if Hughes is compromised, if he knew about what was going on here and if he may have sold those notes. Then we destroy the house. Then we find Hayate a good home and move on."
"I know, dear." Roy said and put the puppy down so he could crawl into bed with his wife. He crawled over her to get to his spot but paused and hovered over her a second. "So Gracia really asked about the sex? Did you tell her you can't resist my shoulder holster?"
"Is this why you used our real names?" Riza asked, ignoring the sex question. Maybe the holster was not helping matters, but it was nice to be in a relaxing setting where they didn't have to be on edge all the time. Maybe he wasn't the only one enjoying this cover a little too much. "Are we the Mustangs because you really do want this to be our life? Suburban home. Neighborhood BBQ. Puppy and kids?"
"I used our real names because Hughes works intelligence. He's good. He would do background checks and none of our aliases are even close to being that solid, having that much history and dead ends, to withstand an investigator like that. At least our real names have longevity, cleaned up but it goes back far enough to make him curious not start a manhunt. And when this is over, the house will burn and so will our names. We'll officially be dead. Does that sound like I was planning a future for us, because it doesn't sound that way to me."
"Then why are you getting defensive?" She asked and reached out to touch his cheek as he moved off her and into his spot beside her. Something wasn't right. "Enough about work, what is bothering you?"
"We're not saving the world or anyone, we're only saving the government's ass." Roy said and looked over at the puppy. "Maybe when we first started this job, after the war, when we had so much to make up for and were still naive...maybe when we were handling genuine threats against real people...maybe."
"We're more advanced than that now." She said. "Now we're trusted and high enough up that we can handle sensitive issues like Tucker and investigate a Lieutenant Colonel."
Roy shrugged and got under the blankets. "You're right, I'm just being cranky because my birthday is coming up. Feeling old. Wondering what I'm doing with my life."
"So working with your wife isn't good enough anymore?" She asked and ran her hand through his hair. She understood what he wanted, but she had to make him talk it through to see for himself it wasn't their life. "You loved your job when we were just flirting and walking a fine line of fraternization."
"I love you." He corrected her. "I love working with you. I've never loved this job. It was penance."
"So what? You think you'd have been happier if you stayed in the regular army? If you were some officer sitting behind a desk signing paperwork all day?" She asked. The irony of him choosing 'writer' as an occupation was not lost on her, considering she was the one who always filed their reports when they went in to be debriefed.
"I'd like to experience this world we've worked so hard to save." Roy looked at her and said. "With you."
"And a puppy." She added and saw him smile, a sincere smile that told her he was truly getting worn down by their lifestyle; this life they had embraced for almost eight years, alias after alias. So many fake identities and lives, so much blood on their hands still...and no end in sight. They had each other, but who were they? They weren't the idealistic fools shattered by a war anymore, they were a married couple who had no idea what they would do on a real date or how they would buy a house if the government didn't do it for them. Truth be told, she really did want to give that puppy a home but they didn't have a home. Their home had been each other for so long, always moving and covering up any traces that they had even existed.
"I saw it when you picked him up and put him under your coat to dry him off. Little stray pup, shivering in the cold rain by himself and nobody even giving him a glance. I know you wanted to save him and it hurt because...we would never be that home for him. We have a dangerous life and no room for a puppy, no certainty that tomorrow we would even be alive to feed him. We found someone we both want to save and we are powerless to give him what he needs long term, so we have to give him up. Well, I never want to see that look on your face again and I'd rather give up this shitty job than that puppy. I'd rather save him that save the government the embarrassment of some scandal surrounding a rogue research scientist who killed his wife during an experiment."
"Roy...we can't leave this life. There is only one way out." She reminded him.
"It's a good thing the Mustangs are scheduled to burn with this house, isn't it?" He asked and leaned over to kiss her goodnight before turning off the light.
Riza took a few minutes to think about it all. She wasn't surprised or insulted that Roy had integrated this exit strategy into his mission plan, she was impressed as always. She was more disappointed in herself for not seeing he was unhappy or more so for allowing herself to be so transparent. "Is this what you really want?"
"A real life with you? Absolutely." He said and rolled over to kiss her cheek and whisper in her ear, "We've already done enough of the government's dirty work, this is not what we set out to do. Let's do what we think is right for a change instead of what we're told is right."
She smiled, it felt right. "We'll talk about it. Focus on the mission for now."
Chapter 53: Snowstorm
The snow was coming down harder than Roy had ever seen as he watched as the military car slid into the curb in front of Hughes's house. It was a testament to Riza's superb driving skills that she made it to the house at all, there was a sheet of ice under all the snow and the entire city was blanketed in a treacherous mixture of winter hell. He wished there had been a way to contact her and tell her to forget about picking him up tonight, but Riza wasn't one to shirk her duties because of the weather. He watched her get out of the car and cover up as best she could against the onslaught of snow. He opened the door just as she set foot on the porch and she marched inside accompanied by her dog who had to bound through the fresh white hell. "You could have just left me here, he's mostly harmless."
Riza started to unbutton her uniform jacket and looked around the Hughes's living room. Hayate came in and shook off and then went over to the fireplace to dry and stay out of the way. "Are we talking about the same Maes Hughes?"
Roy smiled and helped her take her trench coat off and whispered. "Mostly. He's been drinking."
She closed her eyes as he made sure to graze her arm with his hands as he pulled the wet black trench coat off her. He turned to hang it up and she looked up as Maes came in the room with a bright smile and his daughter in his arms. She was surprised when he hugged her and deposited the little girl in her arms. "Uh...Sir?"
Maes pulled Roy over by his sleeve and looped an arm around his shoulder and gushed, "Doesn't it stir something in you? I mean, your kid clearly won't be as cute and amazing as my Elicia but I promise not to point that out when he or she comes over to play. Make some babies with him please. They'd be adorable."
Riza winced as the little girl pulled her hair and giggled happily. She expected to see Roy's typical frustrated scowl but instead saw him a little flustered. She couldn't help but be taken back and felt a little blush tinge her cheeks as she realized he actually had thought about this.
"Coffee is on!" Maes scooped up his little girl and disappeared from the room as quickly as he had arrived leaving them both standing in the foyer looking like frightened deer. He chuckled. He was glad nobody else knew how easy it was to incapacitate those two.
"You really have thought about that, haven't you?" Riza asked.
"Well..." Roy shrugged. "He only mentions it every damned day. You haven't?"
"My best friend seems to have different standards on what 'love' means." Riza replied as Rebecca could be very vocal about what she wanted in a man and love seemed to encompass a bank account, a fine body and a set of balls that would put a prize bull to shame. She felt him step closer and she looked at his face now that she had time to adjust to the warm house and release the tension in her shoulder muscles from driving in the poor conditions. Roy's eyes were a little glassy and his cheeks a little pink and he smelled of alcohol. These two had been drinking, that was never good.
His voice was low as he looked around the Hughes's living room. "You never think about us like this? Coming home to each other, kids...a real home?"
She didn't respond. The truth was best not vocalized.
He caught the look in her pleading eyes before she managed to hide her face from him with a swipe of her hand as she shook snow from her hair. She wanted him to stop teasing her with something they had no idea how to work out.
She closed her eyes. "Maybe I should just leave now."
"Can't. They declared it a snow emergency and only emergency vehicles are allowed on the road." He shrugged. "You're stuck here for the night."
"I think you trying to destroy your career and everything you worked for is an emergency." She said and he pouted. That adorable pout he had when he was unguarded, a pout that made him look so young and downright adorable. She stepped away from him and said "However I think coffee more of an emergency after that awful drive so let's go see what Hughes is doing in the kitchen besides eavesdropping."
Maes pretended like he wasn't just listening to everything and was actually serving out pieces of pie. "Hey, did you hear they closed the roads?"
"Yes." Riza said and sat down at the table as Roy found his chair and Maes went around the kitchen picking up dirty dishes and glasses. She could hear Elicia upstairs, giggling and splashing. Apparently Gracia stole her away to give her a bath instead of letting her husband use her as an example of the Amestrian Dream.
"You should stay the night. It's rational and safe. I don't have an extra bedroom but you can have the couch and Roy can just sleep on the floor." Hughes said and placed a coffee cup in front of her and smiled.
Thanks to reading Breda's fanfiction, she knew this was a set up for her to agree to the "snowed-in trope" as he liked to call it. Hughes was taking the opportunity to use the weather as an excuse to force them together for the night. Sadly, she wasn't left with much choice. The Hughes's lived in the suburbs and snow plows were going to focus on main roads, if they could get them cleared of all the accidents. Her other option was to sleep in the car. "I suppose I will have to insist Colonel, it is the safest option."
Roy was in the process of lifting a bite of pie to his mouth and almost stabbed himself in the face with a fork. She...was agreeing to sleep at Maes's house with him?
"You'd be a great Mom." They both looked to Maes who was staring at them dreamily. "You're very protective and so concerned about Roy's well being...I just can't wait to see you two as parents. Your kids are going to be...well...a handful. But still, you're going to have an amazing family and I'm going to enjoy being a part of it. I also can't wait to give my best man speech at your wedding."
Roy frowned. He wished his friend was being thoughtful and mediating the argument but he had that dopey look on his face that told him he was daydreaming about the play dates Elicia could have with his kids. The little girl squealed upstairs as if on cue and he felt his hostility subside and that awkward feeling from earlier rear it's ugly head. What the hell was in that drink he had at dinner?
"I'll go upstairs and get you some blankets." Hughes said and ignored the annoyed glare from Riza. "Oh...you probably want to take a shower too right? I'm sure Gracia has something you can wear..."
Riza watched Hughes disappear, it amazed her at how stealthy that man could be when he wanted to. It also amazed her that he was probably going to bring her some of his wife's lingerie to wear tonight. "What has gotten into him?"
Roy rubbed his face. Dammit Hughes. "The house on the next street over came up for sale and he wants me to buy it. It's the house right behind this one, backyards separated by just a fence. He always wanted to raise our kids together..."
"What kids?" Riza whispered. "The Elrics and the dog?"
Roy reached over and grabbed an envelope. He handed it to her. "Our kids. Apparently it was a slow day in investigations so he had Armstrong draw what our kids might look like."
"What?!" Riza kept her voice low but it was hard. What the hell was wrong with all of them!? Breda wrote stores, Hughes with his innuendo and now Armstrong with artwork!? She looked at the pictures and had to admit Armstrong was incredibly talented in both art and imagination.
"He really wants me to buy the house." Roy said and sighed. "And it sounds like a great dream. You know...us...them...living real lives. I know it's a dream, but..."
"You've been thinking about this more than just tonight." She said, knowing him. His eyes told her the answer but he played around with his pie crust on the plate and continued.
"Recently, yeah. Work keeps me busy, but eventually I have to come home and my life, not the one everyone thinks I live. My shitty life slaps me in the face and I realize the only glimmers of happiness I have are when I see you. "
"Maes means well, but he doesn't realize how much it hurts to show me everything I can't have." Roy shrugged. "I know you're going to tell me no, tell me all the reasons we can't and it's what I need to hear but...I liked the dream while it lasted. He made me go look at the house and I saw us in it. I let him walk me around that house and paint this fantasy because his dreams for me sounded so much better than the ones I had made. I'm sorry."
She slid her hand across the table and wrapped it around his.
"I know." He said softly. They couldn't have that dream. "You don't have to say it."
"I thought being snowed in was supposed to be our excuse for an entire night of wild sex to tame the tempest of sexual tension that was building between us for years."
Roy bit his lip. "Did you just...quote Breda's fanfiction?"
"I know it's supposed to be in a remote outpost in the North while we're on a training mission, but let's not get hung up on locations." She said and squeezed his hand. She was glad to see him smile a little. "I love you Roy, if you need a house and kids and puppies within pistol range of your best friend so he can shout out his window at you every day...we can make that happen. If you miss him that much to want him in every moment of your life from the time you wake up to the moment he screams 'goodnight Roy-Boy' out his window, we can figure out how to make it happen."
He looked up at her and narrowed his eyes. "Maybe it is a little close."
"The Fuhrer's house is much nicer." She assured him. He squeezed her hand and gave her a smile. She heard Hughes coming so she let go and went back to her pie.
"Will you be my first lady?" He asked.
"It's the only way to make sure you're safe at all times." She said and smiled at him. "I'd hope that by that time I'd be eligible for a promotion."
"You'd consider it a promotion?" He asked and felt that color tinge his cheeks again. Fucking hell, what did Hughes put in his drink?
"Roy Mustang, I think you would like the dreams I have about you much better than your best friend's." She said barely above a whisper and watched his blush deepen. She smiled and went back to her pie before Hughes walked in on them blushing and smiling like schoolkids. "I also intend to see them to fruition. All of them."
Roy wisely nodded and said no more. That would be something they could discuss later tonight after they checked the living room for recording devices and sent Hayate to guard the stairwell.
Chapter 54: Appearances
AN: For Tumblr drabble request prompt #46, "If you love it so much, then why don't you marry it?" for Royai
Roy ran his hands through his hair, clutched it between his fingers and tugged on it hard enough to feel the pain but not rip any follicles out of his scalp. He needed the distraction from the headache forming at the base of his skull. "Why can't you just wear the damned uniform? It's the least offensive fashion choice you have available to you."
"I'm not a soldier. I will never be a soldier. I don't want anyone even thinking I'd compromise on that! " Edward Elric would not be swayed. "And my fashion choices represent that I am a unique individual with impeccable taste who is not afraid to make a statement. Also, red is bad ass."
"The only statement it makes is that you dress yourself and want people to notice you..." Roy said and closed his eyes. "So you don't get stepped on."
"And you just wear your trench coat like a cape because you're too lazy to put your arms in the sleeves? Please. The uniform is too drab for you too." Ed countered. "You dick"
Maes Hughes was enjoying the show. He was sitting on the couch with Al and watching the argument play out, both of them keeping score on notebooks to declare who was the winner of the debate when it was all over. Eventually Roy would play dirty and just threaten to freeze Ed's spending account or perhaps dry up his source of information involving the philosopher's stone, but for now they would enjoy the second Fullmetal vs. Flame battle here in the office. They might have been amused, but he could see from Hawkeye's face she was getting annoyed with the duration of this discussion. He chewed on his lip as he thought of a way to keep her from ending this by stepping in on Roy's behalf.
"Stop changing the topic, Ed! This is about the military ball! Four hours of your life where you have to play the part of an adult and do what your superior officer is asking you to do and change into presentable clothing." Roy exclaimed and let go of his hair in order to slap his hands down on the table. "It's a dress uniform, it's meant to make you look proper not conform. For god's sake Fullmetal, that watch you pride yourself on is more of a symbol of your commitment to the military than any uniform. If anything you should want to wear the uniform because it will make you look taller and you get to carry a sword!"
Al scratched a point into Mustang's column on his score card.
"It should offend you that I would dress up like a soldier at all!" Ed snapped. "I am the worst soldier you have! I never listen, I destroy everything and I speak out against the military wherever I go!"
"I noticed." Roy said and leaned back in his chair. "However, maybe you are exactly what the papers call you...a 'Hero of the people'. An alchemist who works for the people and isn't a government errand boy. A Major in the military who protects the ones who need it the most. Maybe you're not in uniform, but you still have your title and watch and that is far more condemning than any gabardine coat. In the eyes of Amestris you are a military dog no matter what color you wear."
"Are you trying to get me to quit?" Ed asked.
"You wanted attention, you got everyone's attention." Roy replied. "Now the top brass and the Amestrian elite want to see you, Fullmetal Alchemist. They want to see this kid who was the youngest ever to become a state alchemist. They want to determine if you are a threat or an asset, but more importantly they want to capitalize on your fame and popularity and show you off. You're not some research alchemist, you're a weapon. That makes people nervous because weapons with a mind of their own can become liabilities. They fear another Kimblee, especially one who starts out as a loose cannon like you have. You in a uniform shows that there is some degree of control over you and also stirs up some pride in the nation who you represent in the starched blue frock you're going to damn well wear to that ball."
Ed crossed his arms. He could feel himself losing this battle, but dammit if he was going to just agree to dress up for this shit. "If you love it so much, then why don't you marry it?"
"Because he's going to marry Hawkeye." Hughes piped in. You're not going to win that easily Roy.
And Al had to grudgingly give his brother a scratch in his column when he saw the startled and embarrassed reactions to Hughes's comment from the Colonel and Lieutenant.
Ed seized the moment, jumping towards the desk and slamming his hands into it like a large cat pouncing on it's prey. He grinned, "So that's why you're so interested in this ball, because you can go on a date?"
"He's passionate about his balls." Hughes added and could see Roy's fingers twitch, the motion of a snap before he just curled his hand into a fist out of frustration. He wasn't wearing gloves, but the motion made the desired statement. Hughes didn't care and gave him a wink, he could see Roy thinking about throwing his coffee cup at him. Hawkeye glared at him, he could feel it but he wasn't going to break eye contact with Roy. Yeah, he just might have bet on Ed because the odds were really damned good.
Roy's eyes shifted away from his asshole best friend and looked instead to the teenager leaning on his desk celebrating a victory all too soon. "Actually my interest in getting you to the ball was so that you could have a date, with your mechanic."
Hughes heard Al's pencil scratch a win mark in Roy's column, he didn't even have to look to know that was who got the point. Ed's short lived victory grin was gone, his cheeks were bright red and his mouth was hanging open hoping words would just fall off his tongue and save him from this awkward situation. He leaned forward to say something but Hawkeye stepped in front of him to block his view and remove him from the situation. Dammit! Riza always swept in to save Roy! Lucky bastard!
Riza placed her hand on Ed's shoulder and leaned close to his ear. "Edward, Winry does a lot for you and it would be nice if you treated her to an evening out like this. Of course it doesn't have to be a date, the Colonel and I are just going together as superior and subordinate, but it is still an honor to be escorted to the Central Military Ball by the person you support. Think of how happy she would be to spend the evening with you, to see how important you are and have you tell these very important people who made your automail. Think of how excited she would be to wear a ball gown."
Hughes sat back in to the couch and threw up his hands in a sign of defeat. Ed couldn't see him but Roy could, and he watched that smug smirk tug at the corner of his mouth and the sideways glance that screamed 'checkmate, bitch'. Hawkeye was speaking low, but the room was so quiet they could hear the ticking of Ed's watch from inside his pocket. That was done on purpose, Hawkeye was the master of silent but deadly attacks and it was no different when she chose to fight with words. She could have whispered, but this was for his ears as well, to tell him this debate was over. He still had one more play though and he looked at Roy, held up his hand and pointed to his own wedding ring before pointing at Hawkeye and mouthing the words, 'If you love her so much maybe you should marry her'.
Al added a scratch in the win column for Hughes as Mustang's smirk faded and he broke eye contact with Hughes.
"What do you say, Edward?" Riza asked as she stood up straight and raised her voice back to normal. "Would you like to use the office phone to call Winry and ask her to the ball? I'll make everyone leave so you can have some privacy. "
"Yeah...I guess." Ed said and stood there in amazement as he realized he just committed to going to a dance with Winry.
"That's wonderful Edward, I'd love to have someone to go dress shopping with." Riza said and turned to Roy and pointed to the door to tell him to get out and not say another word.
Al circled Mustang's name on his paper it denoting him the winner. Hughes reached over and grabbed his pencil, wrote in 'Mr. and Mrs.' above Mustang and flashed a smile before standing up. Al chuckled a little and Ed shot him a dirty look, assuming it was because he was going on a date with Winry. He got up and followed Hughes out and they waited on Mustang, who slapped Hughes in the chest with the back of his hand as he exited his office.
"Asshole." Roy hissed.
"Still going to be your best man someday, I just would like that someday to come before you're too old and deaf to hear my speech." Maes replied and slung his arm over his best friend's shoulder. "Well played, wonder where she got that idea to capitalize on the 'childhood friendship turned love of my life' move. Glad to see you have an office theme going."